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March 16, 2016

Advancing Public Policies for People with Mental Illness, Chemical Dependency or Developmental Disabilities   

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Francine Sinkoff, Editor

Albany Police Department Third in the Nation to Launch LEAD Program

The Albany Police Department is about to change the way they combat crime.

"This is about letting the public know we're willing to do something differently. We can't continue to do the same thing over and over again and expect success," said Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox.

They're only the third department in the country to launch the program called LEAD. It stands for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion.

"This program targets people who have substance abuse issues, folks that have mental illness, folks that are suffering from poverty," he said.  The program will give officers the ability to connect low level offenders with case workers and services instead of locking them up.

"If all we're doing is arresting somebody, putting them in a cell for a night and they're going back out on the street and we haven't addressed the issues that are causing them to commit a crime then we're not doing any good for them or for society," said Cox.
Read more here.
Doctors Should Screen for Poverty During Child-Wellness Visits, American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends

Pediatricians just declared war on child poverty.

For generations, a visit to the pediatrician involved the familiar tongue depressor, a stethoscope, and some vaccinations. But if a professional pediatrics organization has anything to do with it, it will soon also involve a new question: "Do you have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month?" On Wednesday, the American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents 64,000 pediatricians, announced new recommendations to screen for poverty in a bid to reduce its health effects.

The recommendations are the result of a years-long effort on the part of the AAP's Poverty and Child Health Leadership Workgroup, which formed when the academy officially made child poverty a focus of its broader agenda in 2013. In its newly released policy statement and technical report, the group highlights what it calls the "lifelong hardship" faced by kids who grow up in poverty.

Those health effects can be severe: Research shows that among other things, poor children have higher rates of chronic illnesses like diabetes and asthma, lower immunization rates, and a higher chance of dying in infancy. That's not to mention "toxic stress" - heightened physiological responses that activate when children encounter stressful situations. Children in poverty often lack the supportive relationships and structural conditions to regulate that stress response, which can in turn endanger their health for a lifetime.  Read more here.
FOR-NY Recovery Needs Survey

Friends of Recovery - NY (FOR-NY) is asking for assistance in distributing its
Recovery Needs Survey throughout New York State to individuals whose lives have been impacted by addiction to alcohol or other drugs.
The purpose of the survey is to determine the current needs, strengths, and gaps in community addiction recovery services and supports for individuals and families in recovery. Data collected will help FOR-NY understand priorities that should be addressed in the areas of needs, resources, and challenges for the Recovery Community. Ultimately, the data gathered will help FOR-NY to better advocate for improved access to quality addiction recovery services and supports for individuals and families.  Click here for the survey.

March 17, 12 - 1 pm, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Middle Atlantic Region

Cultural and Linguistic Competence for CCBHCs: Approaches to Meeting New Requirements
March 17, 3 - 4 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health
March 22, 2 - 3:30 pm, SAMHSA/CMHS

March 29, 3 - 4 pm, SAMHSA-HRSA

March 30, 1 - 2 pm, Health Management Associates.

March 31, 1:30 - 2:30 pm, National Council for Behavioral Health

April 6, 3:30 - 5 pm, CMS & Truven Health



MARCH 2016
Director's Meeting - In Person
March 22:  10:30 am - 12 pm
41 State St., Ste. 505, Albany

Executive Committee - In Person
March 22:  12:30 - 2 pm
41 State St., Ste. 505, Albany

Developmental Disabilities Meeting
March 30:  11 am - 12 pm
GTM Only

APRIL 2016
Officers & Chairs - Call In
April 6:  8 am

Mental Hygiene Planning 
April 7:  11 am - 2 pm
GTM Only

Children & Families Committee
April 12:  11:30 am - 1 pm

Director's Meeting 
April 19:  9:30 am - 11 am
GTM Only

Executive Committee 
April 19:  11 am - 12:30 pm
GTM Only

Contact CLMHD for all Call In and Go To Meeting information, 518.462.9422 
HHS Awards $94 Million to Health Centers to Help Treat the Prescription Opioid Abuse and Heroin Epidemic in America

Last week, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced $94 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 271 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to improve and expand the delivery of substance abuse services in health centers, with a specific focus on treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved populations.

The abuse of and addiction to opioids, such as heroin and prescription pain medication, is a serious and increasing public health problem. Approximately 4.5 million people in the United States were non-medical prescription pain reliever users in 2013, and an estimated 289,000 were current heroin users. HHS also estimates the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain medications has nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, and deaths related to heroin increased 39% between 2012 and 2013.

Administered by the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), these awards to health centers across the country will increase the number of patients screened for substance use disorders and connected to treatment, increase the number of patients with access to MAT for opioid use and other substance use disorder treatment, and provide training and educational resources to help health professionals make informed prescribing decisions.  This $94 million investment is expected to help awardees hire approximately 800 providers to treat nearly 124,000 new patients.  Read more here.

Click here to view a list of the NYS awardees.
NY Ramps Up War On Opiate Addiction

With the battle against heroin addiction ramping up nationwide, Governor Andrew Cuomo last week proclaimed that independent pharmacies across New York may provide the antidote without a prescription.  

Improved access to naloxone is one of the priorities at the center of Cuomo's fight to end opioid abuse in New York. When administered by injection or nasal spray, the drug also known as Narcan temporarily blocks the effects of opioids. Cuomo's directive came the day after the Albany County Executive's State of the County Address, in which Dan McCoy called on the State Department of Health to begin providing Narcan over the counter.

On the federal level, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer is leading the push for emergency funding for upstate New York, saying Congress "must get serious" about fighting the opioid and heroin epidemic.
Schumer says the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015, which recently passed the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a critical first step in the battle.  The bill authorizes the attorney general to award grants to address the epidemic, but does not currently appropriate any additional funding.   "When you're losing the fight you can't be satisfied with the status quo, you gotta do a lot more. And we need not just language, but dollars. The language expands the ability to fight the plague. But we have a shortage, a desperate shortage of dollars in this fight."

Schumer cited New York state statistics showing more than 3,300 opiate-related deaths throughout upstate from 2004-2013. 
Read more here.
The Least You Need to Know About CARA Passing the Senate

Few would have predicted at this time last year that a policy like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015 (
CARA) (S. 524/ H.R. 953) would pass the Senate in a near unanimous vote. Behavioral health leaders are truly pleased by its passage but acknowledge that CARA is only one step to begin addressing addiction in the United States. They generally believe it's not enough.

The legislation authorizes $600 million for grants-however it does not actually appropriate federal funds. Instead, money would come out of the budget bill passed last December and would be used for treatment and recovery services, alternatives to prison, law enforcement initiatives and programs to prevent overdose deaths and overprescribing.

Efforts to include an amendment for $400 million in upfront emergency funding were struck down. Now what?  CARA moves to the House of Representatives with an identical bill that has 92 co-sponsors, where it will potentially face a more difficult journey because the House tends to be more fiscally conservative.

"Senator [Sheldon] Whitehouse [D-R.I.] and I believe we'll get a strong vote in the House as well, and we can get it to the president's desk for signature and begin to reverse this trend," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) on the Senate floor in advance of the bill passing. "The bill went through what is a unique process around here, which is bipartisan, or nonpartisan, from the start and a process of bringing in experts from all around the country, rather than us saying we know all the answers."  Read more here.
Governor Cuomo Announces $2.4 Million in Funding to Support Employment of Individuals with Disabilities

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo last week announced that $2.4 million has been distributed to 100 organizations that provide employment services to individuals with disabilities via the New York State Employment Services System. This funding is part of the Governor's Employment First Initiative to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

Governor Cuomo's Employment First Initiative, created through Executive Order 136, is tasked with establishing policies and practices for government, community agencies and advocacy organizations to increase the employment rate of New Yorkers with disabilities, decrease the poverty rate of New Yorkers with disabilities; and encourage businesses to establish formal policies to hire people with disabilities. 

A regional breakdown of the organizations that will receive the funding is available here Read more here.
Assemblymember Rosenthal Supports Supervised Injection Sites

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat and chair of the chamber's Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee, is the first state-level official to come out in support of a controversial idea to create supervised injection sites for illegal drug users.

This comes in the wake of a proposal by Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick to create the first such site in the state in his city. The idea is twofold: To cut down on overdose deaths and the spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, while also providing addicts with support and information about treatment, potentially helping them to stay alive long enough to get clean.

Myrick's plan has garnered him national attention. It has also sparked considerable debate, with both supporters and opponents rushing to either bolster or condemn the concept. (It's a tricky one, especially given the fact that we're talking about illegal drugs, mostly heroin).

In a statement released last week, Rosenthal did not specifically mention Ithaca or Myrick, noting that there are no "SIFs" (supervised injection facilities) in the U.S., but 98 of them operating in 66 cities in 10 countries around the world, including Canada, Switzerland, Greece and Germany.
Read more here.
An Addict, Now Clean, Discusses Needle Exchanges And 'Hope After Heroin'

When she was 17, Tracey Helton Mitchell was prescribed an opioid pain killer after getting her wisdom teeth extracted. The medicine helped her deal with the pain related to the extraction, but when the prescription ran out, her desire for its euphoric high remained. That's when she turned to heroin.

As a teenager, Mitchell imagined heroin to be glamorous, but she found it wasn't once she became an addict. She tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that the drug ruined her health and her self-esteem. She lived in an alley, shot drugs into the bottom of her feet, sold her body for money and was jailed several times. She was also featured in a 1999 documentary about addicts called Black Tar Heroin.

At one of her lowest points, Mitchell says, "I was having heart palpitations, because I was using stimulants, and I thought, 'They're going to pull me out of this hotel, I have no ID, my parents, my family ... will never know that I died and I'll just be a Jane Doe and this is how I'm going to expire in this place.'"

In her new memoir, The Big Fix, Mitchell writes about her addiction and her path to recovery, and also shares insights into today's heroin epidemic. When it comes to our current treatment system, Mitchell says we would do better to reach out to addicts as individuals, by recognizing each user's unique needs and motivations.  Read more here.
The Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors advances public policies and awareness for people with mental illness, chemical dependency and developmental disabilities.  We are a statewide membership organization that consists of the Commissioner/ Director of each of the state's 57 county mental hygiene departments and the mental hygiene department of the City of New York.