NYC advocates for overdose prevention site in amicus brief

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray introduce the Healing NYC initiative to address opioid abuse in March 2018.  Photo via NYC.gov

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray introduce the Healing NYC initiative to address opioid abuse in March 2018.

Photo via NYC.gov

By Phineas Rueckert

A number of cities, including New York, filed an amicus brief Thursday in support of a nonprofit that wants to build an overdose prevention site in Philadelphia. The site is being blocked by the Department of Justice, the brief said. 

The brief comes just over a year after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to build four prevention sites across the city, including two in Manhattan, one in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn. 

“We have a moral obligation to save lives and connect people to addiction treatment, and New York City is on the front lines of the opioid crisis,” de Blasio said in a statement. “It’s repugnant that the Trump Administration is once again trying to criminalize people with addiction issues and we’re proud to stand with other municipalities to say we’ll do everything in our power to save lives.”

Overdose deaths in Queens and throughout New York City have risen significantly in recent years.

Between 2014 and 2017, the number of overdose deaths in Queens more than doubled  — from 141 to 269, according to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene data. The majority of those overdoses (135) were white residents, and the highest proportion of overall overdoses were middle-aged residents between the ages of 45 and 54. 

More than four in five overdoses in the city were due to opioid use, according to the Mayor’s Office. 

Queens operates a number of community-based naloxone treatment centers, where users can receive treatment for opioid addiction.