Overdose deaths have rocked the Hudson Valley in recent years. Now the local area will take part in a $86 million study aimed to reduce opioid deaths.

Columbia University’s School of Social Work has been awarded $86 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to support research intended to reduce opioid deaths across New York State.

“We are planning a rapid public health response to the current opioid epidemic in New York State, focusing on policy and system changes by working with the criminal justice system, health care organizations, emergency rooms, schools, and drug treatment programs,” Nabila El-Bassel, University Professor and the Willma and Albert Musher Professor of Social Work said.

Columbia University will be working in 15 pre-selected New York counties that have been heavily affected by the opioid crisis, including counties in the Hudson Valley. The project will be conducted in collaboration with the county health commissioners and driven by community engagement and real-time learning rooted in data and systems science.

Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan and Ulster counties will all take part in the study.

Drug overdose deaths have exceeded car crashes, homicides, and suicides combined in New York State, according to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

“The opioid epidemic has devastated communities across New York and all over the country, and we need to do everything we can to solve this crisis,” Gillibrand said. “This federal funding will be used to help develop community-based interventions for the treatment and prevention of opioid abuse, and will help us take a significant step forward in the fight against this terrible epidemic. I will continue to do everything in my power to help end the opioid addiction crisis once and for all, and I urge all New Yorkers to keep raising their voices and fighting with me too."

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