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New York Has Lost 19% of Drug Treatment Capacity in the Last 9 years

Our FOIL data from New York State indicates that amidst the opioid epidemic, NYC has suffered from a loss in the total number of patients being treated in addiction programs. Over the last 9 years, the average daily number of patients treated for drug addiction in our city decreased by 19%, or 11578 patients a day! Specific program losses include the most expensive, but most effective form of treatment – residential treatment – which was reduced by 35%, or 1537 beds.

It is not surprising that this shrinkage has been accompanied by increasing complaints regarding open-air drug use in New York City, and increased adult-only homeless shelters filling to capacity.

We support patient advocacy groups such as VOCAL and Drug Policy Alliance in advocating for more treatment, more residential programs, and a reversal of loss of these urgently needed services for our neighbors struggling with addiction.

Recently, Governor Hochul has signed a new bill, reported by City Limits, to impose better governance on the closure of medical facilities in NYC, essentially acknowledging what The Greater Harlem Coalition has observed in our FOIL data visualizations. Hopefully, this law will help reinstate some of the lost drug treatment beds and programs urgently needed by patients in Brooklyn, Queen, and the Bronx where the losses have been greatest.

Data Takeaways

  • 23 districts saw the loss of more than 200 patients
  • 3 districts saw losses of more than 1000 patients - Brooklyn Heights, Prospect Heights and  Jamaica
  • A city-wide drop of 35% (1,537 beds) in residential programs occurred mostly in Queens and  Brooklyn
  • A 26% (or 5191 patient) drop in the number of outpatients was mostly experienced in the Bronx and  Brooklyn 
  • A 14% (or 4609 patient) drop in Opioid Treatment patients was mostly experienced in Brooklyn and  Queens 

(SOURCE: 2021 OASAS Foil Request. Spreadsheet here, more information here.)

This irresponsible defunding of New York City's drug treatment programs lead to a severe deficiency in drug treatment services for certain districts, such as Queens. Note that 20% of New York City's overdose death occured in Queens but Queens only has 7% of New York City's treatment capacities.