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New Approaches to the Drug Overdose Crisis

In today’s New York Times, Dr. Peter Provet, Odyssey House President & CEO, responds to a recent article [“One Year Inside a Radical New Approach to America’s Overdose Crisis,” by Jeneen Interlandi (Opinion, Feb. 26)], and accompanying editorial [“America Has Lost the War on Drugs. What Now?” (editorial, Feb. 26)].

Outreach workers from OnPoint patrol the streets, collecting used syringes.

To the Editor:

Until we adequately fund substance abuse treatment programs, thousands of Americans a year will continue to die from preventable overdoses. Evidence-based prevention services, harm reduction, long-term residential care, in-person and telehealth outpatient therapies, and recovery centers effectively reduce drug addiction.

We see the results of this work daily at our treatment programs in New York City. Individuals, many stabilized on medication-assisted treatments, defy the odds and participate in behavioral therapies, find employment, secure housing and reunite with family.

But it’s a tall order to expect understaffed programs that run on shoestring budgets to solve America’s addiction crisis alone.

I agree that the war on drugs, as a largely interdiction and incarceration approach, has failed millions of Americans. We need lawmakers and public health officials to lead the way out of this failure and provide Americans with a way to save — not punish — people with substance abuse disorders.

Peter Provet, Ph.D.
New York
The writer is the president and C.E.O. of Odyssey House, a nonprofit that helps people overcome drug addiction.

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