© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

With Pandemic-Related Spike In Overdose Deaths, New York Advocates Push For Prevention Centers

Mel Evans

Nearly 40% more New Yorkers died last year from an overdose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials have warned of a pandemic-related spike in overdoses.

Advocates are pushing for centers where people can use drugs under supervision.

Advocates demand legislation for Overdose Prevention Centers, or OPCs. They argue OPCs could reverse overdoses, prevent the spread of disease and connect people with social services.

Critics of OPCs said the centers would encourage drug use and mean implicitly legalizing drugs without federal approval.

Ryan Thoreson Carson is the executive director of No OD New York. The group has been walking across the state to advocate for OPC legislation.

“The way that you get federal approval for something is you pass a law. That’s how, you know, Rhode Island is taking a stance on this, that’s how Massachusetts is taking a stance on this. And New York, as New Yorkers, we like to think we lead the country, right, and right now we’re not leading the country on this issue, we’re just hanging out on the sidelines while people die, unfortunately," Carson said.

Officials in New York said they’ll wait for guidance from the federal government before introducing OPCs.