OSWEGO — The county's only medication assisted outpatient treatment facility, Farnham Family Services, will received a $1.5 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced Thursday.
The funding, administered through SAMHSA and the Department of Health and Human Services, consists of $524,670 per year for three years and will be used to support an increase in available services, notably including buprenorphine (commonly known by its brand name Suboxone) treatment.
“The opioid and heroin abuse crisis in Oswego County is a symptom of this national emergency, and we need to fight back now. With this vital funding, Farnham Family Services can continue the hard work of prevention and treatment by expanding access to Medication Assisted Treatment,” said U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, who wrote a letter to the HHS Secretary Alex M. Azar in support of the funding boon after visiting the facility in April. “I saw first-hand the outstanding work that Farnham Family Services does in the community each every day and will continue to work to help ensure that Central New York communities have the resources they need to make a difference in this fight.”
Farnham Executive Director Eric A. Bresee said the funding would “go a long way in helping us to develop our capacity in serving the growing need in the community.”
Bresee says the grant will double their ability to prescribe the drug, which attaches to the same neurological receptors as more insidious opioids and reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
“We are going to have double the capacity, and that’s going to allow us to be able serve more people in the Opioid Treatment Program,” said Bresee on Thursday. “We’re adding Suboxone, and Vivitrol’s right around the corner.”
Vivitrol is the brand name of the drug naltrexone, an opioid antagonist and blocker.
Bresee says the $1.5 million grant is primarily for opioids but the agency offers many other prevention and substance use disorder programs and treatment avenues.
“We’re going to be enhancing our peer support program and doing more outreach and engagement,” he said. “But this funding is mostly about connecting people in need to Medication Assisted Treatment — specifically intervening in opioid use disorder.”
Opioid use disorder has now reached crisis levels in Oswego County, central New York and around the nation, and elected officials were quick with praise for any measure that can help the problem.
“I have been a huge proponent of treatment and prevention efforts to stem the opioid epidemic and the synthetic drug problem right here in Oswego County,” said Rep. John Katko, R-Camillus. “When I supported increased funding through the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, I was thinking of the Teresa Woolson’s of the world. We make clear the needs and the shortfalls in the community and I think we’re making a big impact.”
Woolson, an Oswego native, whose son Victor died in 2012 after taking synthetic drugs, was Katko’s guest to January’s State of the Union address.
President Donald J. Trump this week spoke about his administration’s efforts to curb the opioid crisis on the anniversary of the president declaring a national emergency.
“Last month, my administration gave state and local governments, community organizations, and other groups an additional $1 billion to address prevention, treatment, and recovery,” he said. “We have given states waivers from outdated rules, and increased by 50 percent the number of people being treated in specialty facilities for heroin addiction. Tremendous amounts of money and care have been given to those specialty facilities. And they are working; they’re having a tremendously positive effect.”
In the United States, drug overdose deaths have recently exceeded car crashes as the number one cause of injury or death, with more than 90 American opioid overdose deaths per day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids—a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications and heroin—were involved in more than 33,000 deaths nationwide in 2015. More than two million adolescents reported using prescription opioids recreationally in their lifetime.
Farnham offers behavioral health and addiction services, and runs the gamut of treatment options from individual counseling to peer recovery support.
“No one treatment intervention works for everybody,” Bresee said. “What we’re working on at Farnham is expanding options and having more tools in our tool box. Some people need medication, some people don’t. Some people need peer support, and some people don’t. We want have every option available, and we keep working with people until we figure it out.”
Farnham Family Services has facilities in Oswego and Fulton, and serves people with substance use and behavioral health disorders by providing outpatient treatment and prevention services available to residents of Oswego and surrounding counties.
Farnham serves more than 200 patients per day and had a total of 17,799 clinic visits last year. In 2017, Farnham expanded treatment options by becoming the solely licensed Opioid Treatment Program in Oswego County.
Currently, Farnham provides Medication Assisted Treatment to more than 120 patients.
Farnham will also seek to implement technology for telemedicine services, as well as connecting to services for those incarcerated in Oswego County.