Recovery Advocates Call for Lockbox to Ensure Proper Use of Opioid Settlement Funds for Advancement of Treatment & Recovery Supports in New York State

May 4, 2021 | Press Release

GARDEN CITY, NEW YORK, May 4, 2021 – FCA, a Garden City based not-for-profit addiction treatment provider, hosted a press conference to address New York State’s recent diversion of opioid settlement funds.  Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, FCA President & CEO, addressed the need for a lockbox to ensure that all future dollars paid by opioid manufacturers and distributors are spent on people and communities that have been affected by the addiction crisis.

“While getting these dollars will not bring back the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who have lost their lives to opioid addiction, their deployment back into local communities – especially here in Nassau and Suffolk – for prevention, harm reduction, treatment, recovery support and services will help remediate the damage, both past and future. Vulnerable men, women and teens were duped once by drug manufacturers and distributors laughed all the way to the bank as families sobbed at funerals. We won’t allow government to victimize them a second time,” stated Dr. Reynolds.

FCA was joined by the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD), Long Island Recovery Association (LIRA), Families in Support of Treatment (FIST) and families impacted by opioids.

In an effort to bring attention to this misappropriation of funds by New York State following a recent $32 million opioid litigation settlement, the recovery community came together today to urge state lawmakers to place future opioid settlement funds in “lockbox” solely for the improvement & expansion of addiction support services.  Out of the $32 million settlement, $21 million was diverted into the general fund as part of the state budget process and only $11 million was reinvested in new treatment programs. This is unacceptable and must be addressed before New York receives billions more in settlement monies.

Anthony Rizzuto, LMSW, CASAC, Founder & Executive Director, Families in Support of Treatment (F.I.S.T), remarked, “The money that came from this settlement will not bring back all the lives that were lost and will not repair the devastation caused to the families. However, we must assure that every dollar goes to preventing, treating, and providing education, support and healing to families that have been impacted by a loved one’s addiction. We must do everything we can to prevent this money from being detoured from that purpose”.

“Born of tragedy and family heartache the anticipated opioid settlement funds must be used only for the intended purposes. Our Long Island community was particularly hard hit consistently ranking near the top counties in overdose fatalities year over year. LIRA stands with our community partners to ensure that OASAS is the sole recipient of these funds and that the allocated dollars are used to support evidence-based practices in prevention, treatment and recovery support services,” stated Richard Buckman, Found/Member, Long Island Recovery Association.

Steve Chassman, LCSW, CASAC, Executive Director, LICAAD commented, “The opioid pandemic continues to take a devastating toll on individuals and families across New York State at an unprecedented rate. The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) stands firm with individuals, families, and advocates to ensure that accountability and monetary resources are justly provided to serve the many New Yorkers that have fallen victim to nefarious – and all too often fatal – business practices. The opportunity now exists to see justice done and to right the wrongs inflicted on families and communities throughout New York State who continue to be adversely impacted by the opioid crisis.”

Countless New Yorkers have lost their lives, families have been shattered and communities have been taken advantage of by opioid manufacturers and distributors who lied about the risks associated with their drugs.  As these defendants enter into settlement agreements with New York State, those funds must not go to fill potholes, build bridges, or backfill budget gaps.  Dollars, instead, must be used to serve, treat, and heal the communities, families and an entire generation of youth devastated by opioid addiction.

About FCA

FCA is a not-for-profit agency based in Garden City, NY. For over 136 years, the organization has worked to protect and strengthen Long Island’s most vulnerable children, seniors, families, and communities.

FCA believes in the potential of Long Island – a place where no child, senior, family or community is left to struggle alone with barriers to health care, education, employment or economic prosperity. Long Island continues to be one of the greatest places in the world to live and raise a family for many; FCA exists to ensure that be the case for all.

For more information about FCA, visit FCALI.ORG.

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