New York City Council members Chi Ossé and Keith Powers are sponsoring a bill to make the Narcan Behind Bars program law. The bill, called Intro 56, would provide up to five free safety kits to all NYC bars, restaurants and clubs.
For International Overdose Awareness day and International Recovery Day, Council Member Ossé announced the bill in front of C’mon Everybody, a staple bar in the city’s gay party scene. As people have returned to nightlife since the pandemic, overdose deaths in the city are also on the rise, with an increase of more than 1,200 deaths over the last year.
To address the growing need for harm reduction in the city, activists have been shepherding the Narcan Behind Bars program across NYC to increase access to the overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, and decrease overdose deaths due to Fentanyl-laced drugs.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group for restaurants and nightlife establishments, likened the Narcan kits to CPR for their life-saving impact and user-friendly application.
“We can save lives,” Rigie said, “just like CPR kits can save lives.”
The kits provided would be equipped with fentanyl test strips and Narcan, and will be made available to employees, guests and passers-by should an overdose occur. With resounding support, Council Member Ossé hopes to pass the bill as early as next week, which would be a monumental shift for NYC’s nightlife community, where opioids killed 30.5 of every 100,00 New Yorkers in 2020, according to Council Member Ossé.
“We want to bring New York City back,” Ossé said. “We want to make sure that parties and nightlife as safe as possible.”
To supplement Intro 56, individuals can also access free available Narcan kits available through community-based organizations and pharmacies, along with virtual training by the City’s Health Department.
Photo courtesy of Geoff Sean Levy
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