By Sue Ellen Woodcock
It’s been a little over a year since the Substance Use Disorder Initiative (SUDI) office opened on Revere Street, and Councillor George Rotondo invited its director to give an update to the City Council during its Dec. 4 meeting.
The SUDI office heads up the local battle against the opioid crisis, something Mayor Brian Arrigo made a priority during his campaign. The office is 96-percent funded by grants and the rest comes from the city budget.
The office runs on a $336,000 budget with 60 percent going to salaries, 30 percent to programs and 10 percent administrative.
Director Julia Newhall said since the office opened in the summer of 2016, they have engaged 783 people, educated 328 people on the use of Narcan, and referred 392 people to outside services. Newhall said they are working on a strategic plan. Part of the plan is to increase, by July 2019, the number of participants by 20 percent, increase the number of external referrals by 20 percent and reduce overdoses by 15 percent.
Currently, the services include peer and family support, treatment navigation, and referral to services and Narcan distribution. There is also community health education and outreach.
In the future SUDI would like to see a school-based prevention curriculum and a youth led public service campaign.
“We want it to be an overreaching plan and more consistent,” she said.
Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso thanked Newhall for her work, and admitted that when the SUDI office opened on Revere Street the neighborhood was concerned.
“Over time many of the neighbors have changed their mind seeing how the office has helped people,” Guinasso said.
“You are giving people the power to fight addiction,” said Councillor Steve Morabito.
Rotondo was absent from the meeting.