Confronting the Opioid Epidemic


Last year, there were four drug overdose deaths each day on average in New York City, representing one life lost to a drug overdose every seven hours. More than 80% of these deaths involved an opioid, with heroin and increasingly fentanyl and fentanyl analogs as the major drivers of these deaths.

The Good Samaritan Law

Opioid overdose deaths are preventable if the person overdosing receives immediate medical attention. Shockingly, most drug overdoses are witnessed, meaning that someone else can call for help but often fails to because they fear prosecution for their own drug use. The Good Samaritan Law protects people in these circumstances, and our office works hard to make sure those who make a life-saving phone call are not unfairly prosecuted.


Naloxone Training

Naloxone is a medication that reverses overdoses from opioids such as heroin and prescription painkillers. It became legal to carry naloxone in New York State in 2006 and it is an essential tool in the fight to prevent fatal drug overdoses. This spring, all of our staff were offered training in Naloxone use and received an overdose rescue kit with two doses of the medication.


Project Reset

In 2016, in order to provide a proportional response to low-level drug offenses and put first-time offenders on a path to success, our office announced funding for an innovative court diversion program: Project Reset. Now, individuals arrested in Manhattan for low-level drug possession (Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 7th Degree) who do not have a serious criminal record, complete a two-session program run by our partners at the Center for Court Innovation without ever stepping foot inside a courtroom. Those who successfully complete the program have their cases dismissed. Specific programming varies by age and precinct, but includes: arts, counseling, naloxone training, and benefits registration.


Manhattan Hope

Under the new Manhattan Hope program, eligible individuals with multiple arrests for low-level drug possession are diverted from the criminal justice system to receive addiction treatment and other services they need. The Manhattan Hope pre-arraignment diversion program (currently available in Manhattan North) connects eligible participants with one of our Community Navigators and offers programming based on a comprehensive intake assessment such as: detox, counseling, naloxone training, and Medicaid enrollment.