On display at the Staten Island YMCA are quilts, with each patch representing a child whose life has been affected by drug abuse. It’s part of a program teaching kids how to cope with addiction problems in the family. Jacqueline Filis, executive director at the YMCA, says more resources are needed to treat recovering addicts.
“The availability of medication assisted treatment,” said Filis. “At the Y, we believe that treatment is supported by medication.”
She says numbers also tell a strong story about the prescription drug and heroin addiction epidemic in the borough.
“We’re losing one person every four days as a result of overdose,” she said. “In our services we serve about 300 people.”
Staten Island Congressman Dan Donovan and other officials visited the Y Monday, to announce the House is expected to pass a wide-ranging bill — to fight the problem.
“We don’t win this battle if we just concentrate on education, if we just concentrate on treatment,” said Congressman Donovan.
The bill would provide 100 million dollars in federal grants to help nonprofits and treatment centers in hard-hit areas like Staten Island.
“We can’t win this without help from every level of government,” said Borough President James Oddo.
“The federal government’s role in addressing this problem our nation faces is to supply the resources to the localities and the individuals who know how to deal with the issue,” said Donovan.
Individuals like Alicia Reddy, a nurse who founded Addiction Angel. It hosts support groups that, she says, have filled high school auditoriums.
“I could pack in anywhere between 5 and 1000 people in a given forum,” said Reddy.
Donovan says the funding not only will support prevention and treatment program — like the Little Steps quilt program at the YMCA — but law enforcement efforts to combat addiction as well.
This includes expanding drug courts for criminals with a history of addiction.
“We divert those individuals out of the criminal justice systems, out of the jails, out of prison, and put them into treatment programs,” said Donovan.
The House is expected to vote on the bill this week. The Senate must agree on a final version, before the President can sign it into law.