ITHACA, N.Y. — As the need for substance abuse care rises, a $450,000 grant awarded to the Alcohol & Drug Council of Tompkins County will help open at 24/7 Regional Access Center that will help people struggling with addiction.

“Substance abuse knows no age, knows no income and knows no zip code in New York or across the nation,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement announcing the award. “With these around-the-clock Open Access Centers, we can provide critical services night and day to New Yorkers when they need it most.”

The Alcohol & Drug Council received the award from the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services to open a 24/7 Regional Open Access Center in Tompkins County. It will serve as a regional hub, serving Chemung, Cortland, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tioga, and Yates counties.

“Having a site in this region is really critical for thousands of people,” Emily Parker, director of development at the Alcohol & Drug Council of Tompkins County, said.

Parker said the funding from OASAS is critical to get the center open. The Regional Access Center is also only the beginning, she said. In the future, they plan to expand to have a detox and stabilization facility on-site.

Though the Alcohol & Drug Council will manage the center, it will be a collaborative environment pulling in experts and services from across the community. Parker said people will be able to come into the access center, where the focus will be on having a compassionate and stigma-free environment. There will be an intake coordinator to talk to them and meet them where they are, and help meet a variety of needs outside of recovery, such as medical, safety, nutrition, legal, housing, mental health or employment.

A location for the 24/7 access center has not been finalized yet, but it should be open in the next six months, Parker said.

A center open at all hours is important because addiction-related crises often happen during nighttime hours, when emergency rooms are often the only place to turn.

The need for resources and solutions continues to grow as deaths from overdoses rise. In 2017, 22 people died from overdose and a look at data from the past decade shows a consistent continued rise in overdose deaths in Tompkins County.

In a statement, Angela Sullivan, executive director for the Alcohol & Drug Council, said the awarded resources will help them continue to build strong partnerships and offer a service model that effectively and compassionately addresses the regional public health crisis.

“Our goal is to offer easily accessible, evidence-based treatment for people with substance use disorders, and this funding will help us to achieve that goal. This facility will fill a critical gap in the continuum of care in addiction treatment and serve as a valuable resource for Tompkins and surrounding counties,” Sullivan said.

Parker said the vision eventually is to have a detox and stabilization center connected to the access center, so people will be able to go through the center’s doors to a bed in the detox center if they need and then receive stabilization services in the same place, so the program “moves to accommodate the person,” she said.

“That’s healthier, it creates more security, stability and well-being, bringing partners and services to them,” Parker said. And when they are discharged, they will have a plan as well as a trained person, called a Peer Recovery Support Advocate, to check on them.

“It’s a long-term plan to meet the needs of people where they are. It’s a lot of work for sure, but the most effective way to see long-term recovery,” Parker said.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.