The state is seeking bids for 25 residential beds that would offer treatment for the first time to adults ages 18-25 battling prescription drug or opiate addiction on Long Island.
Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez, commissioner of the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), announced Monday that the agency is seeking to expand residential drug services with 50 new beds, 25 on Long Island, and 25 in Erie and Niagara counties in western New York.
Currently, there are no state-approved beds on Long Island to treat young adults ages 18 to 25, said OASAS spokeswoman Jannette Rodon. She said it wouldn't be clear how much money would be awarded until OASAS had received the bids. The agency said it hopes to award the funding by mid-April.
Both Long Island and western New York are areas hit hard by increases in prescription drug abuse, especially among young people. Between 2007 and 2011, non-crisis admissions to drug treatment programs on Long Island for prescription opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin rose more than 133 percent, OASAS said. A survey of seventh through 12th graders in 2010 on Long Island showed that nonmedical use of such drugs was greater than any other category, the agency said.
Experts in drug treatment praised the state for seeking to expand residential treatment services but said 25 beds were just a drop in the bucket.
"It's great, but it's only a fraction of what is needed," said Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Reynolds said that residential programs, which typically last anywhere from six months to a year, are especially useful to help younger people break the cycle of drug abuse.
"It took four to five years in all likelihood for them to develop the problem," he said. "A longer-term program gives kids a chance for a drug-free future."
Kathleen Riddle, president of Outreach, which has a 55-bed residential program for drug users ages 12 to 17 in Brentwood, said the state's action was "a very good start in a very difficult budget year."
But, she said, she wasn't sure if Outreach would apply for the funding because her organization didn't have property on which to build a facility.