BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Experts in Broome County told New York State Attorney General Letitia James what they consider the greatest needs to address the opioid epidemic at a panel discussion. She was in Binghamton on Friday for a round table about the crisis.
Speakers included the mayor of Binghamton, Don Garren, who has been in recovery for twelve years, the Broome County sheriff, the county executive and others from advocacy and recovery services.
Rebecca Kaufman, Director of the Broome County Department of Health, was one of a handful of people concerned about housing.
“When we have residents coming back from treatment and ending up in the same housing they left we’re not assisting them in staying in recovery,” said Kaufman.
Affordable and safe housing was mentioned more often than any other need during the session. Prevention was also a big concern.
“We need to invest in prevention. We need to invest in it across the spectrum. As serious as this opioid epidemic is – and it’s deadly and it’s serious – I look at our emergency room presentations and we still have more presentations of drug poisoning from drugs other than opioids,” said Alan Wilmarth, Administrative Director of Behavioral Health at UHS. (Disclaimer: UHS is a sponsor of WSKG.)
Alcohol and methamphetamine are the cause of the greatest emergency room visits at his hospital.