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Slashing Funding For Addiction Service Is Not ‘New York Loving’

To The Reader’s Forum:

Slashing funding for addiction services by twenty percent amid a surge in overdose deaths is not ‘New York Smart’ or ‘New York Loving’ or ‘New York United’, instead it is ‘New York Shortsighted’, ‘New York Heartless’, and ‘New York Divided’.

Predictably, here’s what’s already starting to happen – programs are developing plans to down-size or close services, frontline essential workers are losing their jobs, and preventable deaths of despair like overdose and suicide are getting worse.

A 20% cut to NYS Office of Addiction and Services and Supports (OASAS) funded programs will NOT achieve any measure of cost savings. The burdens of untreated substance use and behavioral health disorders will shift elsewhere at a greater cost.

Cost-effective interventions are impossible without adequate state support. The massive cut now being experienced by prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery programs is untenable.

Prevention Works, Inc., the only state approved non-profit prevention provider in Chautauqua County, will be greatly impacted by the reduction of funds. Prevention Works, Inc. partners with the majority of our local school districts and this could vastly impact the Social Emotional Learning and Substance Use prevention programs that are being offered. At a time when children are going back to school during uncertain times, these programs will be needed now more than ever. To cut funding of these services could greatly impact the well-being of our youth.

It is abhorrent that the success of the COVID-19 public health response is being measured by limiting the loss of life while the overdose and addiction crisis, which in many New York counties is claiming more lives than COVID-19, is viewed through the lens of budget targets.

Melanie Witkowski

Prevention Works executive director

Jamestown

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