Advocates push for overdose prevention centers, some walking from Brooklyn to raise awareness

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Advocates and local lawmakers gathered outside the Capitol Saturday morning, pushing for the state to take additional action to combat overdose deaths, including establishing overdose prevention centers.

Some advocates walking from Brooklyn, as part of a month-long initiative to raise awareness.

“Along the entire way we’ve just been talking to people about their experiences with the overdose epidemic, who they’ve lost, what they think can be a solution to this problem,” said Ryan Thoresen Carson, the Executive Director of No OD NY.

Thoresen Carson walking with the organization all the way through to Buffalo. Raising awareness for a cause that’s deeply personal.

“In 2016, my best friend, Eli Todd, died of an overdose. It was really the most crushing thing that’s ever happened to me in my life,” he explained.

No OD NY joining other advocacy groups outside the Capitol Saturday, holding a press conference and rally in front of tombstones representing those who have died from overdoses.

“I think what’s really heartbreaking to me is just knowing that there’s a family and a group of friends that’s attached to each of these,” Thoresen Carson said.

One of the key things they’re pushing for is for the state to establish overdose prevention centers, facilities where addicts can use under supervision.

“People can talk about the morals of drug use all they want, but at the end of the day, what we want is for people to live. These are facilities are where people can continue to live. But also, this is a facility where people can access other forms of healthcare,” No OD NY’s executive director said.

Thoresen Carson says these center’s can help save lives, as 2020 was yet another deadly year in the ongoing opioid epidemic.

“I had a friend who was very very vocal about creating these facilities and he died in 2019. I really deeply believe in my heart that if one of these facilities existed, he’d still be with us today,” he said.

Some local lawmakers also joining advocates, saying the state needs to do more in combatting the issue of overdose deaths.

“We need to get this problem out of the shadows and get it in areas where it can be controlled safely, and then hopefully move people into treatment, which is our committee’s goal obviously,” Assemblyman Phil Steck said.

No OD NY will be concluding their statewide walk in Buffalo at the end of the month.

In response to the push to open these types of facilities here in New York, the New York Department of Health released the following statement:

“We continue to explore all options to reduce opioid overdose deaths and combat problem drug use in New York State. While we fully support efforts to reduce the harms caused by the opioid epidemic and acknowledge the substantial body of research showing the efficacy of supervised injection facilities in preventing fatal overdose, we are waiting for legal clarity from the U.S. Department of Justice before we can consider opening similar facilities here.”

DOH Spokesperson

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