NYC Health Dept. launches opioid awareness campaign

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THE BRONX -

The New York City Health Department is tackling the opioid epidemic head-on with a new campaign it hopes will help addicts kick the habit.

Health Commissioner Mary Bassett announced Wednesday at Montefiore Medical Center a more than $4 million initiative to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic and to reduce the stigma of treatment.

Bassett says more than 43,000 New Yorkers were treated for opioid addiction last year but that more need to seek help.

She says using drugs to combat addiction can save lives.

"These medications, which include methadone and reduce the symptoms of withdrawal, they reduce opioid cravings. They reduce the risk of overdose and they give people there lives back," she says.

The city also announced a new public awareness campaign featuring New Yorkers willing to share their stories of addiction and how medication helps them combat addiction.

"Every day, people in our community are dying because we do not treat opioid addiction like the chronic disease it is. That has to change and it has to change fast," says New York City first lady Chirlane McCray.

According to city officials, a New Yorker dies from a drug overdose every seven hours, and opioids were found to be responsible for 82 percent of those deaths.

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