As most everyone knows over the last few years all of America has been locked in a battle fighting against the rampant opioid epidemic. Here in the Hudson Valley, the fight has been especially tenacious. One County in particular in our region has been front and center with their fight against the crisis.

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Sullivan County in recent years has been hit harder by the opioid epidemic. This has made it that the county has fought back against it just as hard. This leads us to today, where local leaders from Sullivan County are taking the necessary steps in order to get additional assistance to their already strong efforts.

How Bad is the Opioid Epidemic in Sullivan County?

To fully understand why Sullivan County has been at the forefront of fighting the opioid epidemic in the Hudson Valley, we need to understand just exactly how hard Sullivan County has been hit by the epidemic itself. According to statistics, 2021 and 2022 were incredibly difficult years for Sullivan County with the opioid epidemic.

In 2021 "the county’s opioid overdose death rate was 108% higher than the state average". Then in 2022 Sullivan County there were a reported "218 overdoses and 24 deaths within county lines". This would sadly qualify Sullivan County as region in New York with one of the highest "overdose death rates" in all of New York State.

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How is Sullivan County Pushing for More Support Against the Epidemic?

With statistics such as these, it is easy to see why Sullivan County has made fighting the opioid epidemic so important. This is also why representatives for Sullivan County are looking to be recognized as an HIDTA. HIDTA stands for "high-intensity drug trafficking area". If Sullivan county were to be designated as a HITDA, this would open avenues for Sullivan County to potentially receive more resources from the federal government as well as the DEA.

The astonishing part about this is that despite what the numbers show in recent years, Sullivan County is NOT currently listed as an HITDA. Even more astonishing is that, according to Brian Contay, the Sullivan County Acting District Attorney...

Every county in the Hudson Valley region is designated as a HIDTA area short of Sullivan County, which is unconscionable considering that we have the highest overdose rate per capita outside of New York City.

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In addition to seeking the designation as HIDTA, Sullivan County is also changing strategies to further combat the issue. One of the initiatives being taken is the start of 'Hope Not Handcuffs'. This initiative is a concept that originally was started in the state of Michigan and according to the ADA Contay it will "facilitate long-term inpatient treatment" as well as "help cut the rate of recidivism".

Future Outlook for Sullivan Counties opioid Battle

As previously stated, currently Sullivan County is not designated as a HIDTA. Sullivan County has also looked to receive this designation in two previous attempts. In the past, designation was denied because at the time it could not be determined to what extent Sullivan Counties opioid problem was affecting surrounding counties.

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Sullivan Counties plan of attack on this third attempt will be to accurately show the levels of drug trafficking currently in Sullivan County. This would include information on drugs being sold in Sullivan County as well as individuals who are coming to Sullivan County to purchase narcotics.

The opioid epidemic beyond a shadow of a doubt is one of the most problematic issues in America currently. Sullivan County has also clearly been hammered by the epidemic. Here's to hoping that the third time's the charm and Sullivan County will get the help they are seeking to continue their battle and get as much of this poison off the streets and out of our communities.

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