Dose of reality: Data suggests drug addiction getting worse across state
With most of New York living in quarantine for the past several months, substance abuse is on the rise across the state - and medical experts warn that the problem is about to get a lot worse.
State Sen. Peter Harckham says he understands the daily battles many addicts fight - the longtime Westchester lawmaker is decades into his own recovery.
He dug himself out of that bottom, but now he fears for the many other New Yorkers who are still stuck at home are unable to get the help that he did.
Isolation might be the key to holding back the coronavirus, but it's led to a spike in substance abuse across New York state, where addiction experts tell News 12 that overdose deaths jumped 20% in less than three months.
A recent study predicted more than 150,000 people will die from abuse and suicide directly due to the pandemic.
The state's crisis help lines are jammed while treatment options are harder to come by.
The Coalition for Behavioral Health found that three out of four treatment providers in New York report increase in demand, and a quarter of them say they're struggling to meet it.
"When you think of the impact of the coronavirus on the treatment industry, we really have a perfect storm in the Hudson Valley - trying to physically distance themselves, but they are losing their jobs," says David Gerber, CEO of the Resource Recovery Center of Orange County.
Gerber says that like every other in-patient program in New York right now, he is dealing with new restrictions on patient intake and sky-high costs for protective gear and training.
"We test everyone for COVID. We have clients and staff alike in masks. What we don't have is some of the instant testing," he says.
That's something Sen. Harckham is now fighting for. He is calling on Congress to include more funding for rehab providers across the state.
"It's a must because this was an industry that was already in danger," he says.
Harckham says the timing is critical.
Many groups like the Drug Crisis in our Backyard, are now holding virtual counseling sessions for families in need, as providers brace for a brutal few months ahead.