New York State Expands OTP Treatment
Written by Allegra Schorr – NY AATOD Board Delegate
October 29, 2016
As in most areas of the nation, there are parts of New York State where there is little or no access to Opioid Treatment Programs and patients travel miles to receive medically needed services. However, there is a deep rumbling that the tide is turning in New York State. Mark A. Raymond, MS, CASAC and Manager of the Crouse Hospital Opioid Treatment Program in Syracuse, NY recalls, “Central New York once had such a discrepancy between demand and available services that our waitlist grew to over 500 people and extended to about a one year wait. Due to the determined efforts on the part of NYS OASAS (Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services) to expand existing services and open new OTPs that wait list has been reduced significantly.”
New York’s Nyswander-Dole Award recipient, Robert A. Kent, General Counsel of NYS OASAS, has been instrumental in implementing this expansion and achieving this success. Mr. Kent explains, “In the midst of the heroin and opioid epidemic, the Governor and Commissioner have been determined to increase OTP access in areas of need across the state. That leadership, combined with community education, have enabled NYS OASAS to add more than 2,000 OTP treatment slots over the last few years.”
Eric A. Bresee, MS LMHC, Executive Director, Farnham Family Services discusses the resources available to new providers seeking to open new OTPs, “NYS OASAS and the Syracuse Regional Field Office have been extremely supportive of Farnham’s expansion to include an Opioid Treatment Program. The knowledge and assistance they have brought to the process, in addition to hearing and learning from experienced professionals in the COMPA network allowed us to fast track our application and move forward much more efficiently and effectively.”
COMPA works with Belinda M. Greenfield, Ph.D., NYS Bureau Director of Adult Treatment Services and NYS SOTA, to train new OTP providers. Conifer Park, Strong Memorial Hospital, Crouse Hospital, Mount Sinai Beth Israel, and others have helped to provide support to new OTPs across New York State.
New York State Assembly Roundtable Discussion – June 5, 2014
Mark Parrino, AATOD’s President, represented AATOD during the New York State Assembly Roundtable Discussion, “A Comprehensive Approach to the Opiate and Heroin Crisis”, which convened in New York City on June 5, 2014. Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse) convened this meeting with two of his Assembly colleagues; Assemblyman Richard Gottfried (Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Health), and Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (Chair, Assembly Standing Committee on Codes).
There were a number of speakers representing different parts of our field and our discussion was extremely helpful in providing guidance to the New York State Assembly on methods to confront the health crisis of opioid addiction at the present time.
Harm reduction initiatives (syringe exchange programs, the use of Naloxone kits by first responders) were discussed in addition to a number of treatment interventions, from prevention to therapeutic communities, DATA 2000 practices, and Opioid Treatment Programs. There was an excellent “give and take” during the Roundtable with each of the Assemblymen asking extremely important questions on how to properly deal with this public health crisis. From our point of view, there is a need to use all three federally approved medications to treat opioid addiction, including methadone, buprenorphine, and Naltrexone/Vivitrol.
There is also great value to the harm reduction initiatives, which were under discussion, and it is recommended that such harm reduction initiatives be connected to treatment interventions so that people do not continue to overdose on prescription opioids or heroin. There is also value to employ all of the proven and effective treatment interventions for opioid addiction, including therapeutic communities and the use of Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction. Clearly, there is a need to provide consistent education to the public so that people have a better understanding when they are getting into trouble with the use of prescription opioids as it transitions to potential abuse and addiction. This was the first of several roundtable discussions as the Assembly and members of the New York State Legislature consider putting new initiatives into place to contain the crisis of opioid addiction.