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A Timeline of Addiction in New York, NY

We have compiled a brief timeline of the opioid addiction’s impact on New York City. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the city of New York’s initiatives to stop the opioid epidemic, but rather it is meant to provide you with a small snapshot to look into the city’s history with addiction.

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New York City has long been considered a bastion of glamour and celebrity. Earning the title of the most populated city in the United States, its vast urban landscape and rich history make it a powerful force driving our country’s economy and global influence.

“I love New York. You can pop out of the Underworld in Central Park, hail a taxi, head down Fifth Avenue with a giant hellhound loping behind you, and nobody even looks at you funny.”
― Rick Riordan, New York Times bestselling author.

However, underneath its shiny exterior lies a darker, more sinister truth. New York City is home to countless tragic victims to the addiction crisis afflicting the nation, with numbers growing rapidly each year. Heroin, fentanyl, alcohol, cocaine and more prescription or street drugs are being abused regularly by its population. When compared to the national averages, New York’s rates of opioid overdose are noticeably higher.

Taking into consideration the sheer size of the population, the addiction crisis befalling New York simply cannot be ignored any longer.

Examining a Timeline of Opioid Addiction in New York, NY

Although New York City is seeing addiction of all types (including but not limited to: alcohol, methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, or addiction to non-drugs such as shopping or gambling), the most prominent and deadly one is opioid addiction. The number of deaths claimed by opioid abuse is only increasing.

We have compiled a brief timeline of the opioid addiction’s impact on New York City. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the city of New York’s initiatives to stop the opioid epidemic, but rather it is meant to provide you with a small snapshot to look into the city’s history with addiction.

Late 1990s:

Late 1990sThe United States’ opioid crisis begins with heavy marketing campaigns encouraging the overprescribing of painkillers to patients. Although drug addiction has long been prevalent, the rates of prescription opioid abuse start to increase.



NYC 2000New York City begins collecting official data on the number of deaths caused by opioid-related deaths and publishing its findings.



2006New York State passes a law allowing non-medical persons to administer Naloxone in the event of an overdose.


September 2011:

The Good Samaritan LawThe Good Samaritan Law passes, which protect individuals who call 911 in response to an overdose from being criminally charged or prosecuted for drug possession or drug paraphernalia.



2012A fact sheet published by NYC Health reports 34% of all drug-related hospitalizations among residents living in New York City in 2012 were opioid related.



2013Almost 10% of New York City public high school students report misusing prescription drugs within the past year. This year, New York City Police Department begins to distribute naloxone in bulk to officers to handle overdose cases.



2014There is a 23% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths from the past year. This alarming number is 25 times higher than the rate seen from the previous decade.



2015The state of New York’s annual report on Opioid Poisoning reveals that opioid-related deaths have shown notable increase over the past 5 years. Data for the report was accumulated as part of a joint-effort collaboration between the New York State Department of Health, the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, and the Harm Reduction Coalition.


May 2016:

May 2016A statewide heroin task force is implemented by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in an effort to combat New York’s heroin and prescription opioid crisis. Heroin Task Force includes initiatives involving spreading public awareness about opioids, support for addiction recovery and expanding access to available treatment.


June 2016:

June 2016New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli publishes a statement addressing the grave degree to which New Yorkers were dying from heroin and prescription opioid abuse. The report reveals that New York’s rate of fatal overdose has seen a greater increase over the last 10 years compared to any other state.


October 17, 2016:

October 17, 2016New York City health department releases an official advisory confirming that in 2016, nearly half of every fatal drug overdose in New York involved fentanyl. The advisory requests that medical personnel administer higher doses of naloxone for overdoses that they suspect involve fentanyl, and to also be cognizant of the fact that patients themselves may not even realize they have fentanyl in their system.


December 12, 2016:

December 12, 2016New York City officials launch a public awareness campaign promoting the slogan: “Save a Life, Carry Naloxone.” The program is funded by ThriveNYC and its ads are to be placed strategically across neighborhoods that have reported high numbers of opioid overdoses.


March 13, 2017:

March 13, 2017Mayor Bill de Blasio launches HealingNYC as a response to New York City’s growing opioid overdose deaths. Plans for the initiative include expanding the city’s Nonfatal Overdose Response System (NORS) to include seven more high-risk neighborhoods, in addition to connecting overdose patients with harm reduction services or drug treatment. $38 million will be invested into the program.


May 22, 2017:

May 22, 2017Following the HealingNYC launch, a new naloxone awareness campaign is released by the city’s health department. The “I Saved a Life” Awareness Campaign showcases stories by New Yorkers explaining how they used naloxone to prevent an opioid overdose, and encourages others to learn more about it as well as carry it themselves.


May 2018:

May 2018NYC Health publishes a report indicating that there are more New Yorkers dying from accidental drug overdose than combined deaths from homicide, suicide and motor vehicle incidents.


Opioid Addiction Specialists in New York, NY

Can New York’s opioid epidemic be defeated? With increasing public awareness about naloxone and a push for better access to addiction treatment, we have to remain hopeful. Additionally, a surge of harm reduction strategies and a growing understanding of how prescription drug abuse became so widespread are also key factors to helping combat the heroin addiction crisis.

Intervention Helpline offers addiction intervention services for New Yok, NY and its neighboring areas. If you are concerned about a loved one in New York, please feel free to give us a call today to discuss treatment options and intervention counselors.

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