The New Law That Could Make NYC Bars A Whole Lot Safer

National headlines are filled with news about the ongoing drug crisis plaguing the United States. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that there were about 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States and noted that the number of deaths related to drug overdoses continues to increase every year with a 15% uptick from 2020 to 2021 and 30% uptick from 2019 to 2020. In response to these many deaths, New York City is trying to stop overdoses from becoming fatal with a bill aimed at helping its bars and their patrons.

In September, New York City Council member Chi Ossé introduced the Nightlife Opioid Antagonist Program, targeting overdoses that occur in the city, reported New York Amsterdam News. When discussing the bill at a city council meeting, Osse said a friend of his died because of a fentanyl overdose in 2021.

"This is an overdue measure that will, simply, save lives," Ossé said in a statement. "Each overdose death is a preventable tragedy; We do not accept them here in New York City. I am proud to partner with [council member Powers] in this necessary bill and thrilled to see it become law. New York City became safer today."

What the bill does

After the bill goes into effect, nightlife businesses in New York City will need to keep opioid antagonists (like Narcan) and provide them for free to anyone in need of one in case of an overdose, according to New York City documents. As part of the Nightlife Opioid Antagonist Program, the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will offer free resources and training to applicable business staff on how to administer opioid antagonists.

To address the drug crisis, the state of New York and New York City have focused on public health programming and have created policies around this approach to stopping overdose deaths, reports the New York Amsterdam News. New York Mayor Eric Adams addressed the drug problem with an August 6 statement, saying the opioid epidemic has resulted in thousands of New Yorkers dying and citing the statistic that someone dies every three hours in NYC from an overdose. 

The Nightlife Opioid Antagonist Program will go into effect in January 2023.