New York Overdose Epidemic: More People Die from Accidental Overdose than Homicides

Press Release April 6, 2008
Media Contact

Gabriel Sayegh at 646-335-2264 or Tony Newman at 646-335-5384

On Tuesday, April 8, the Drug Policy Alliance, Harm Reduction Coalition, New York City AIDS Housing Network, Voices of Community Advocates and Leaders, and advocates from around the state will travel to Albany to demand effective overdose legislation and public health policies for drug user health in New York.

There is an overdose epidemic across the country and in New York State. In New York City alone, nearly 1,000 people died of accidental drug overdose in 2006, making it the fourth leading cause of death among adults after heart disease, cancer and AIDS. More people die of overdose than homicides in New York City.

At 11 a.m., advocates will gather at Emmanuel Baptist Church for a strategy meeting and inspirational talk by Senator Tom Duane and Humberto Cruz, Exec. Director of NYS AIDS Institute. At 1 p.m., the coalition will make a special delivery to Gov. David Paterson’s office–one flower for every accidental overdose death in New York City. Nearly 1,000 flowers will be delivered.

Many accidental drug overdoses in New York are preventable. Most people hesitate to call 911 because they fear getting arrested for illicit drugs. Assembly Bill 8740, the 911 Good Samaritan Bill, will save lives in New York by allowing people to call 911 to save a life without fear of being arrested. Additionally, the Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP), passed by the NYS Legislature in 2000, amended the Public Health Law to make possession of clean syringes legal. However, New York State Penal Law still states that possession of a clean syringe is a Class A misdemeanor, and many clients are arrested around syringe exchange programs–for possession of syringes. Advocates will call on legislators to remove syringes from the penal code to encourage injection drug users to access clean syringes to reduce HIV/AIDS without fear of arrest.

What: Statewide Meeting and Lobby Day to Reduce Accidental Drug Overdoses
When: Tuesday, April 8th 11:00 A.M.
Where: Meeting at Emmanuel Baptist Church 275 State Street, Albany, NY
Who: Advocates, with special comments by Senator Tom Duane and Humberto Cruz, NYS AIDS Institute Director
Action: Flower Delivery to Gov. Paterson to symbolize overdose deaths in New York: 1:00 p.m. at the Executive Chamber

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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