They have no shame.
The city’s health department urges junkies not to feel embarrassed about getting high on fentanyl, and even offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to use one of the deadliest and most deadly drugs. addictions of the planet.
In its ‘Let’s Talk Fentanyl’ ad campaign, the agency tells users they need to feel empowered when safely using the drug – which has become the leading cause of death among Americans aged 18-45. in 2020, according to an analysis.
“Don’t be ashamed to use, be reassured that you are using safely,” says a woman identified as Florence from Manhattan in one of the citywide advertisements on trains and buses.
In another, Victor from Harlem says, “Even if you go out at night to use cocaine, it’s possible that fentanyl will end up in your drug supply.”
Barbara Blair, the leader of the Garment District Alliance, which struggles with a neighborhood besieged by drug addicts, was appalled by the health agency’s message.
“Why don’t we start distributing drugs as if they were condoms? Blair said. “Are we literally telling people how they can use illegal drugs?
The advertisements advise that, to avoid an overdose, “avoid using alone and in rotation” and “start with a small dose and go slowly”. They also suggest having naloxone on hand to combat an overdose and using fentanyl test strips. The strips can detect the presence of fentanyl, which is often mixed with heroin and cocaine.
The Florida Department of Health said the message from its northern counterpart was not one the agency should be sending.
“That’s not it, @NYCHealthy”, the agency tweeted friday.
The campaign, which started in December in a more limited fashion, was relaunched on May 9, with wider outreach, according to the DOH, which did not respond to questions about its cost.
Councilman Joe Borelli, a Republican who represents South Staten Island, caught on Twitter ask Dr. Ashwin Vasan, the DOH commissioner, if he approved of the campaign.
“It’s amazing that our commissioner thinks that putting unnecessary cloth masks on toddlers mitigates any real danger, but when it comes to heroin, it’s all ‘Take turns guys’ and ‘ Use it safely, wisely. “It’s just weird,” Borelli told the Post. “He looks like a jerk.”
Borelli said he also wrote to the MTA on Friday asking the agency to remove the ads.
An MTA spokesperson said the ads appeared to follow the agency’s guidelines “but we understand the concern. We will work with the city’s Department of Health to review the wording of any future messages for subways.
A DOH spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Borelli’s remarks.
Luke Nasta, manager of the Camelot addiction treatment program on Staten Island, said the new campaign “demonstrates a society in decline.” Still, he said he supports “anything that has the potential to prevent an overdose or a death.”
The DOH launched a fentanyl awareness campaign in 2019, but at that time the message included the phrase, “The best way to avoid an overdose is to not use drugs.”
The effort also provided bar and club owners in Brooklyn with coasters warning that fentanyl could be mixed with cocaine.
Curtis Sliwa, the founder of the Guardian Angels, said he doubted drug addicts would take turns watching each other get high and that the only part of the city’s campaign that made sense was to use fentanyl test strips .
“Everything else is ridiculous,” he said.
New statistics from the CDC estimate that there were 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States last year, an increase of 15% from the estimated 93,655 deaths in 2020. Of these deaths, 71,238 were attributed to fentanyl, a 23% increase from 2020.
The city’s ad campaign is among controversial approaches to allegedly stemming the drug scourge that began under former mayor de Blasio’s administration.
Legal shooting galleries in East Harlem and Washington Heights have opened to outcry from neighbors, and the city plans to install needle and naloxone vending machines.
The DOH has defended the latest initiative – which mirrors the ‘harm reduction’ approach taken by drug-ridden cities like San Francisco – saying “every four hours a New Yorker dies of a drug overdose”. .
“Shame drives people underground. Shame drives people away from services. Shame puts people at even greater risk. And shame is life threatening. We want to fight shame and stigma. We want people to live,” DOH spokesman Patrick Gallahue said.
Additional reporting by Bernadette Hogan