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Schumer wants a $3 billion increase in federal funds to battle opioid crisis

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Senate Democrats
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to increase federal funding to battle opioid addiction, as Long Island experiences another spike in opioid overdoses.

Schumer wants to add $3.2 billion to the National Drug Control Program to bring the total federal investment to $42.5 billion. The funds include a nearly $1.5 billion increase for drug treatment, and an additional $303 million for community mental health and substance use disorder treatment services.

Schumer said he knows there are solutions.

“First is prevention — going to the schools and everywhere else telling the kids this is no way out, don't listen to the drug dealers and even your friends who may be pushing this stuff. The second is treatment, as I said we know treatment works. The third is recovery, making sure that once people are treated, they walk into good lives,” Schumer said.

Officials said there were 36 confirmed fatal opioid overdoses during the first three months of 2022 in Nassau County. Suffolk County has 53 confirmed fatal overdoses so far this year.

Schumer said a significant percentage of the funding should go to Nassau and Suffolk counties to battle its opioid crisis.

“Today’s push to supercharge the funds that can and have helped put out this fire is no drill, it’s really a necessity,” Schumer said, referring to a shortage in financial aid for treatment and counseling options.

Data show more than 100,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses during the first year of the pandemic. This was the first time overdose deaths topped six-digits during a 12-month period. The pandemic left people struggling with social isolation and mental health challenges, experts said.

May 10 is marked as National Fentanyl Awareness Day to bring more awareness to the dangers of the synthetic opioid, which is, in part, responsible for the recent uptick in fatal drug overdoses.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.