$3 billion to fight fentanyl-driven opioid epidemic

Two years ago, Alicia Busha’s outlook on life was bleak.

“I hope it’s not dead,” she remembers thinking.

But now she knows firsthand what it’s like to struggle through the depths of addiction.

“They really help you, if you really want to,” she said.

What do you want to know

  • There have been four fatal overdoses at Schenectady in the past week
  • Albany reports that every month this year overdose responses have exceeded the three-year average
  • Senator Chuck Schumer is proposing a two-part plan, including a $3 billion increase in funding to bolster addiction services

Busha talks about the staff at the Albany Addiction Center.

“ACC definitely gave me another chance to rebuild my life,” she said. “Not just for me, but for my children.”

Busha shared her story with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and others on Monday as the Capital Region and other parts of New York grappled with a wave of fatal overdoses.

“Schenectady had four fatal overdoses in a single week,” Schumer said.

Albany also reports that every month this year overdose responses have exceeded the three-year average.

Despite the numbers, the senator said the areas are not designated as high-intensity drug trafficking areas.

“That’s where the federal government coordinates with local law enforcement to stop this flow of drugs coming into the capital area,” Schumer said.

Changing that designation is part of what Schumer is advocating in Washington.

“We desperately lack the kind of facilities we have here,” he said.

The senator is also proposing an investment of more than $3 billion to strengthen prevention, treatment and recovery services like those offered at ACC.

“We seemed to be making progress before 2020,” ACC CEO Keith Stack said. “But the COVID-forced isolation has created real problems.”

Schumer pointed to the problems during other visits across the state on Monday, including to Onondaga County, where there were nearly 200 fatal overdoses last year.

“Illicit fentanyl is today’s problem,” Stack said. “And that’s really driving the opioid epidemic.”

As Busha prepares to take her next step in recovery on Tuesday, she was proof of what can be accomplished when the right resources are on the line.

“I’m a little scared,” she said. “But I’m also happy to get on with my life, with my son and other children.”

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