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76% of Patients treated in Harlem resides in Harlem

Data from OASAS has shown that 76% of those getting substance abuse treatment in Harlem’s facilities do not reside in Harlem. Everyday, these patients have to travel into Harlem for 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 Harlem has only 4% of New York City’s population, our clinics serve 18% 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. 8% of all opioid clients served in East and Central Harlem come from out of New York City – upstate and/or Long Island.

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

Do not ever let anyone justify the oversaturation of substance abuse facilities in our community by arguing on the basis of ‘need’.

Opioid treatment patients from all across New York City are sent to Harlem and East Harlem for methadone 6 days a week from the communities colored in red, below:

This large influx of former users from across the entire city, then attracts dealers to Harlem and East Harlem who look to sell to the former users seeking treatment. These two commuter groups are then joined by a third group of daily commuters - users who come to buy and get high.

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