More Funding to Help Heroin Addicts but Still a Wait List Remains at Crouse Treatment Center

Jul 22, 2015

A waiting list of around 500 people trying to kick addiction to heroin and other opiates persists, despite an influx of state money.
Credit WAER file

  Crouse Hospital will be able to help more people with their heroin addiction thanks to assistance from the State Legislature.  Hospital treatment officials got a chance to meet some of their benefactors Tuesday.

Crouse Hospital runs the only center in the region that helps people kick heroin addictions by prescribing and administering methadone.  But the program can’t keep up with the number of people who want help.  Center Director Monika Taylor says she’s unable to do much for people who have reached a crisis point.

“They lost family, they might be homeless, they’ve lost jobs.  They’re sick from using heroin and other opiates and finally decided they need help.  To pick up their phone and finally say, ‘ok I need help’, and then they’re being told: ‘you can put your name on a wait list and maybe a year later you can get into the program’, that’s just very difficult.”

Right now, Taylor says they have 600 patients in treatment…but another 500 on a waiting list.  The state legislature approved 400-thousand dollars to help Crouse expand the program.  Taylor notes methadone treatment to keep people off of heroin and other opiate painkillers can be a lifelong endeavor.

“We support of course anybody who desires at some point to taper off methadone, but we find that many patients who start methadone treatment they regain all their lives, in terms of  being able to work again, being a productive member of society.  So we support people throughout their lifespan and we’ve had patients in the program for over 20 years.” 

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was in Syracuse to announce the funding that follows a surge in the heroin and other opiates problem.

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is flanked by Assembly Members Bill Magnarelli (left) and Al Stirpe at Crouse Hospital
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

“Heroin addiction kind of died down a little and now it’s come back.  I think this is more of a wakeup call, that just a one-year grant (won’t) solve our problems.  This is going to have to be an ongoing discussion where we’ll have to look at this every year, look and see if more resources are required or other things that help us address this crisis.” 

Heastie was joined by assembly members Bill Magnarelli and Al Stirpe who say they’re poised to offer more help next year if needed.  Stirpe represents the Clay, Cicero, and Manlius areas, and says the heroin epidemic knows no bounds.

“Who you are, what your economic status is, race religion, nothing.  It happens to anyone. That’s why it’s so important and what Crouse is doing is so important.  They’ve been losing a little bit of money because the effort has been so big because the problem has gotten so big.”

Hospital officials say the grant will help open a larger treatment center.  They’ve taken on 110 new patients for heroin and opiate addiction in the first six-months of the year…but during the same period of time they had to put 190 more names on the waiting list.