Residence of People Who Travel to Harlem for Opioid Treatment

Over the holidays the Sugar Hill Concerned Neighbors group finally received a FOIL request they had made to OASAS – the agency that licenses all substance abuses programs and facilities in the state of New York

And, while the data that OASAS sent regarding who uses New York City opioid treatment programs is not complete and contained errors (zip codes of 00000 or 99999…) it did tell a story that we’ve been parsing over the holidays.

  1. While East and Central Harlem have only 3% of New York City’s population, our clinics serve 14% of all the opioid abuse clients in New York City
  2. The 3 largest substance abuse clusters in our community are on West 124th Street at Lenox, East 125th Street at Park Avenue, and (the 2nd largest facility in the city) on 2nd Avenue at 121st Street.
  3. 10% of all opioid clients served in East and Central Harlem come from out of New York City – upstate and/or Long Island.

However, the key insight we gained by exploring the data is this:

Only 10% of the substance abuse clients served in East and Central Harlem OASAS programs are from Harlem.
(Harlem, here, is from East 96th Street up to 155th Street.)

This is an incredible fact.  For decades the substance abuse industrial complex has been justifying siting programs in our community because ‘that is where the need is’.  Well, it turns out that this is a lie.  We have been a dumping ground for New York City, and indeed even New York State simply because our real estate is less expensive, community resistance has been weak, and our political class has acquiesced (are complicit) and failed to challenge City Hall and Albany

The map, above, shows the NYC residences of clients served in East and Central Harlem opioid programs (remember that there is a missing 10% of residents from upstate and Long Island who are not represented here):

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