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Schumer stops in Syracuse to push billion-dollar plan to better address opioid overdoses

U.S. Sen Chuck Schumer speaks to audience during a news conference at Helio Health, June 20, 2022.
Emma Murphy
U.S. Sen Chuck Schumer speaks to audience during a news conference at Helio Health, June 20, 2022.

The rising opioid overdose deaths in Onondaga County is spurring the U.S. Senate's majority leader to call for more funding to address the issue.

U.S. Senate Chuck Schumer of New York visited the Syracuse area on Monday to tout a billion-dollar strategy to address drug overdoses across the nation.

While overdoses have been on the rise nationally, local overdoses have more than doubled in the last several years. At least 186 Onondaga County residents died last year from drug overdoses — that's an increase from 78 in 2015. Schumer said each statistic marks more than just the death of a person.

“It represents friends, family, community who suffer the losses. It's lives, it’s family, and we need action,” the Democrat said.

Schumer is pushing to bring an additional $3.2 billion in federal funds to support first responder training, drug prevention programs and substance abuse and mental health services. He said the three-point approach can help curb overdoses.

“Prevention, treatment, recovery are the silos in this fight and we have to keep them full with funds that deliver the resources to Central New York,” Schumer said.

Those resources include local behavioral health services provider Helio Health. The organization’s president Jeremy Klemanski said Helio is seeing positive signs at its clinic on Syracuse's North Side, where clinicians saw 1,725 individuals seeking care for depressive disorders report "significant relief" in their symptoms.

“That’s really good progress for a really serious issue in the region,” Klemanski said.

Schumer said he expects providers like Helio in hard-hit Onondaga County to receive the funds. The region has the second-highest overdose rate out of the six-county Central New York region, according to the Onondaga's opioid.

Schumer said the Senate will vote on the plan with the upcoming budget this summer.