Phoenix House and Chi Ossé Call For Fentanyl Test Strips to Be Made Available at Nightlife Venues Across City

BROOKLYN, NY (10/14/2021) (readMedia)-- On Thursday, Phoenix Houses of NY/LI CEO Ann Marie Foster and Democratic nominee for City Council Chi Ossé joined together to call for fentanyl test strips to be made available for free at bars, clubs, and other nightlife venues across the city.

Watch the event here, starting at 27:40. Passcode: 61nENq^^

The push -- which could include using the recently acquired opioid manufacturer settlement funds to pay for the initiative -- is supported by the NYC Hospitality Alliance, and follows the accidental overdose of actor and activist Michael K. Williams.

Accidental overdose deaths continue to increase in New York City, and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, is involved in more than 75% of overdose deaths. It has become the most common substance in accidental overdose deaths across the city because drug suppliers mix it into heroin, cocaine, and other drugs. Drug users are often unaware of the tainted supply and higher risk.

The event also featured trainings in how to use fentanyl test strips and administer Narcan, and remarks from James Swift, a Narcan-trained individual who has intervened in an accidental overdose.

"Every five hours, somebody dies of an overdose in New York City. But accidental overdose deaths are preventable. As overdose deaths continue to rise and fentanyl's prevalence grows, it's crucial that anybody who is using drugs has access to the tools they need to keep themselves safe. That's why we're calling for fentanyl test strips to be made available at bars and clubs across the city. This simple act can ensure New Yorkers have what they need to keep themselves safe," said Ann Marie Foster, president and CEO of Phoenix Houses of NY/LI.

"The pandemic has exacerbated multiple issues in our society, and drug addiction is one of those. We're advocating today for access to testing strips, which will save many lives if we give them to bars, clubs, and other establishments where drugs are used. Instead of stigmatizing the issue of drug use and allowing people to die from fentanyl, we need to put forward solutions that will prevent these deaths and save lives," said Chi Ossé, the Democratic nominee for City Council District 36.

"Bars, restaurants, and nightlife venues want our customers to be safe-and fentanyl has become a serious risk to public health that can easily be prevented. As fentanyl's prevalence rises, using recreational drugs can become more dangerous, so offering fentanyl test strips for free is a simple act that will save lives. I'm proud to stand with Phoenix House today and support this important harm reduction measure." Andrew Rigie, executive director, NYC Hospitality Alliance.

"There continues to be an opioid epidemic inside of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the behavioral workforce continues to show up in service to our communities. We have to remember that opioid overdose death can be prevented, and we all have a responsibility to do what we can to save lives by preventing and reversing overdoses," said Shaun Willis, Phoenix Houses of NY/LI's Director of Recovery Services and Community Outreach.

About Phoenix House

Since 1967, Phoenix House New York has helped thousands of people overcome substance and alcohol use in order to lead healthy, productive, and rewarding lives. Phoenix House New York offers short-term and long-term residential, intensive outpatient, and general outpatient treatment. Phoenix House also offers treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders, medical, psychiatric, and dental services, and impaired driver programs. These services are designed to meet the individual needs of adults at various stages of recovery, including military personnel, and veterans. In addition, Phoenix House provides educational and supportive services to family members, friends, significant others, and the community.