BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Addiction is something that has affected many people living in the Southern Tier.
"Addiction does not care if you are rich or poor if you are white or black if you live upstate or downstate if you are a republican or democrat it affects everyone," State Senator Fred Akshar said at a news conference on Wednesday.
According to the Broome County Opioid Addiction Awareness Council, the area has seen twice the amount of fatal overdoses in 2020 than any other year. They attribute this to the closure of support resources due to the pandemic, as well as the increased use of Fentanyl.
New York State Attorney General Letitia James said even though these numbers are startling, the Binghamton area has done a lot to help combat this crisis.
"Two years ago the state-certified Binghamton University as an opioid overdose prevention program site," James noted. "The first such university to achieve such certificate."
During the 'Heal NY' Initiative, James says $1.5 Billion in funding will be distributed across the state. The Southern Tier will see $26.7 Million of that, with Broome County receiving up to $4.1 Million.
County Executive Jason Garner said the money will help, but it won't replace the lives lost to addiction.
"No amount of settlement money will ever bring back the lives of the people that we have lost or even the pain and grief of the families that were left behind," Garnar said. "But it does bring hope, it brings hope that with this funding we can invest directly in programs and services and reduction services that will save lives in Broome County."
Dr. Julia Hunter is an Addiction Specialist with UHS in Binghamton, she said this funding will not only help the people affected but those helping people in recovery as well.
"The funding is in recognition of the injustices to a venerable population and a step forward in healing families and communities it is also an opportunity to revolutionize the way we deliver healthcare specifically for people who use opioids," she said.
The funding comes from a March 2019 Lawsuit that AG James initiated against certain manufacturers and distributers that she thought might be responsible for the opioid crisis.