WINTER IN AMERICA? –
Nov. 5, 2021 – But according to Dr. Chinazo Cunningham, New York City’s Executive Deputy Commissioner of Mental Hygiene, more services are the answer, in the form of overdose prevention sites, where users can inject their drugs under nurse supervision.
“This is bringing people inside, giving them a safe environment and then linking them to other treatment,” said Cunningham. “Treating people with dignity and respect, reducing their harms and then ultimately linking them to care.”
New York City reports that, in 2020, more people died from overdoses than any other year in history. January to September of last year saw nearly the same death toll as all of 2019.
“COVID has made many things worse, including overdose deaths… we know that people were isolated and so that if people did overdose, there was nobody around them to give them Naloxone and call 911. We also know that people’s mental health symptoms got worse,” Cunningham said. But Asberry-Chresfield saw something else happen, too.“While we were inside,” she said, “everybody else was outside. And they weren’t just outside. They were outside claiming their territory.” Asberry-Chresfield says increased police patrols have had minimal effect, because laws are not strict enough on drug dealers.