September 13, 2011 Dear Friend, We cordially invite you to the release and briefing for our new report

, Beyond Methadone: Improving Health and Empowering Patients in Opioid Treatment Programs. This report is the result of over 500 surveys and five focus groups conducted by VOCAL-NY’s Users Union with research support from the Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project. The report documents the experiences of patients in Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) focusing on hepatitis C care, overdose prevention, syringe exchange, police accountability, and other innovative approaches to make programs work for patients. The report also offers vital policy recommendations that will increase the effectiveness OTPs and improve public health and safety. Beyond Methadone will be officially released to media, elected officials and the community on Thursday, October 6th at 11am at 250 Broadway (19th Fl.) in Manhattan. The report release event will include a briefing of the report’s findings and recommendations and a panel discussion with OTP patients and other experts in the field. Over the last three decades, the War on Drugs has stripped people of rights, blocked life-saving public health policies and created new social problems. VOCAL-NY Users Union organizes low-income people who use drugs (including former users) to replace the disastrous war on drugs with approaches rooted in human rights and public health. Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) offer methadone maintenance treatment to people who are dependent on heroin and other opioids (e.g. painkillers). Although people who seek out methadone treatment are taking a positive step towards establishing more control and stability in their lives, there is profound stigma and misinformation surrounding methadone. In fact, methadone treatment has been shown to be highly effective in reducing the risk of hepatitis C, HIV, overdose and incarceration while also improving a person’s quality of life. While methadone can improve public health and reduce unnecessary public spending, VOCAL New York (VOCAL-NY) has identified a number of concerns related to the provision of care at OTPs in New York. Accordingly, with the research support of the Community Development Project (CDP) of the Urban Justice Center, VOCAL-NY conducted the current study to gather detailed data from the perspective of OTP patients on the key challenges and opportunities for OTPs in New York. What: Briefing of new report, Beyond Methadone: Improving Health and Empowering Patients in Opioid Treatment Programs When: Thursday, October 6th at 11am Where: 250 Broadway, 19th Floor, in Lower Manhattan Who: • VOCAL-NY members who are current and former methadone patients. • Honorable Richard N. Gottfried, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Health.

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Honorable Steven Cymbrowitz, Chair of the NYS Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. Daliah Heller, PhD, MPH. Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care and Treatment in the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene. Sharon Stancliff, M.D. Medical Director for the Harm Reduction Coalition and medical consultant for the AIDS Institute in the NYS Department of Health. Steven Kipness, M.D. Medical Director for the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS). (invited)

If you have any questions or would like to RSVP for the press conference, please contact Jeremy Saunders at (917) 676-8041 or Jeremy@vocal-ny.org. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Sincerely, VOCAL-NY Users Union The Urban Justice Center’s Community Development Project

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