Ithaca plan to combat drug addiction moves forward

ITHACA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) - In early March, Ithaca Police responded to eight calls for suspected heroin overdoses including one death, in just a two week span.

It’s even more reason some in the community want their unique plan to deal with drug addiction put into action.

Facing what's been called a public health crisis of heroin and opioid related deaths, the Ithaca Plan was unveiled about a year ago, initiated by the mayor but in reality it’s a community approach to dealing with drug addiction. 
Twelve months later, it’s moving forward at a grassroots level but now battling what the interim drug policy coordinator says is a most fundamental issue because of a change in Washington.

"Funding that we might have expected directly or indirectly won't be forthcoming so we are having to find other funding sources, other funding streams, in order to do even the most basic things,” said Gwen Wilkinson, the interim drug policy coordinator with the Ithaca Plan.

The former Tompkins County DA says her focus in this new role is on short term goals of stopping deaths from overdoses, including an idea she was totally against, until researching the effectiveness of the Ithaca Plans most controversial idea.

"What we do have to focus on in a very intelligent and unbiased way is supervised injection facilities, detoxes, flooding the county with Narcan and medication assisted treatment,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson says one thing that is definitely within reach is something they call lead, the law enforcement assisted diversion program which steers people away from the criminal justice system and gets them into services to help treat their addiction." >

“I want to respond and be proactive about answering the screaming need for measures that will stop the dying."

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