Naloxone has been called a miracle drug because of how effective it can be at reversing the effects of an opioid overdose.
So far this year, emergency medical technicians in the city have administered Naloxone 3,276 times, an increase of 23 percent over the same period last year.
Luke Nasta is the CEO of Camelot Counseling, an addiction treatment center with locations throughout the city. He believes the increase is due to the pandemic.
"Take the forced quarantine, and further isolate these people, and they use in isolation — depression, and anxiety,” said Nasta.
Fire officials could not say how many times naloxone has saved lives, but in a borough-by-borough breakdown obtained by NY1, Staten Island leads the city with a whopping 66 percent increase in the number of times EMTs administered the antidote, followed by Manhattan, at nearly 61 percent.
Next comes Brooklyn, with a 20 percent increase, followed by the Bronx and Queens.
Jack, an addict living at a Camelot facility on Staten Island, said he understands why more people appear to be overdosing.
"If I was home right now and I didn't get help, I would be drinking, and using it more often and more frequently,” Jack said. “I would have to imagine that's definitely what's going on outside right now."
City and state health departments said they could not provide any data on the number of overdose deaths in the city, but Staten Island's District Attorney's Office tracks such data. They told NY1 there have been 58 overdose deaths in 2020, compared to 42 in the same period last year, a 38 percent increase.
This comes as the state is proposing to cut funding for substance abuse treatment by 31% because of the dramatic decline in tax revenues caused by the coronavirus crisis.
"When we should be getting additional resources dedicated to doing this work, prevention work, treatment work, recovery work; instead, we're being faced with reductions — as the death toll rises," Nasta explained.
Governor Cuomo has pushed for direct aid from the federal government to bolster the state's finances, which would help maintain programs like Nasta’s, but absent federal funding, Nasta says any cuts are potentially deadly.
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