Opioid Use Treatment Center Opens in Downtown Brooklyn

Mayor Eric Adams stands before eight other politicians and advocates, many of whom are wearing suits. He wears a white polo shirt and stands behind a small podium with a microphone attached. A television screen behind the group reads "Center for Community Alternatives."

Mayor Eric Adams at the new center.

By Carmo Moniz | news@queensledger.com

Treatment for opioid addiction can be difficult to access, but a new center in downtown Brooklyn is looking to remove barriers to care.

The new wellness center, which is run by the Center for Community Alternatives, will provide opioid use disorder treatment through medication, counseling, employment support, court advocacy and other services at no cost to patients. The center is a part of a New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports project that will create up to 39 of these programs across the state. 

Mayor Eric Adams attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the center on 25 Chapel St. this past Friday, praising the De Blasio administration’s past efforts to curb drug overdoses and voicing concerns over the rise of fentanyl. Assemblymember Jo Ann Simon, State Senator Jabari Brisport and Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Kimberly Council were also in attendance.

“Because you’re at a bend in the road, it’s not the end of the road, as long as you allow it to make the turn,” Adams said. “On the other side of addiction, we see viable, healthy New Yorkers that want to give back.”

There are currently 35 other outpatient centers for substance use disorder licensed by OASAS in Brooklyn, but this will be the first center to take a holistic approach to treatment.

Mayor Eric Adams stands in front of a crowd of around 10 people, holding a pair of comically large scissors behind a large ribbon. The ribbon is navy blue and has white text reading "GRAND OPENING" on it twice.

Adams cutting the ribbon at the center’s opening.

Carole Eady-Porcher, a former opioid user who now serves on CCA’s board, spoke about her experiences with drug use and how difficult it was for her to find help. She said that she lost her job due to her drug use and was eventually arrested for selling drugs while pregnant. 

Eady-Porcher said that she had sought a treatment program from a judge in her case, but that when her request was accepted the center she was sent to shamed patients for their past drug use. She eventually enrolled in a CCA program for women, which gave her access to employment and counseling. 

“Across this country, people who use opioids are overrepresented in jails and prisons, and after at least they are the most likely to overdose due to their reduced tolerance,” Eady-Porcher said. “What New York has needed for a long time is an integrated opioid treatment program that is tailored to the needs of people who’ve been impacted by the criminal injustice system.”

Eady-Porcher said that while treatments for opioid use disorder have existed for years, they have not been widely accessible. She said that if she had had a program like what’s offered at the new center when she was first struggling with drug use, she might have avoided using and being homeless for 12 years. 

Black and Latine people are the most common demographics for drug-related arrests in New York City, according to 2023 arrest data. So far this year, there have been around 3,400 arrests of Black people, more than 700 of Black hispanic people and just under 2,000 of white hispanic people over drug-related offenses. 

Council spoke about the role mass incarceration and criminalization play in drug addiction, as well as her own experiences with drug use in her family. She said her father was a drug addict and that she lost her sister to a fentanyl overdose last year.

“The thing that brings us here today is a very big deal. The Center for Community alternatives is showing up for Brooklyn in a major way,” Council said. “When we leave from this place of love and care, that's when we turn the tide in the opioid crisis. That's when we put an end to the senseless preventable deaths incurred by our failure to show up in a real way, for those who need our support.”

OASAS commissioner Chinazo Cunningham, who is also a physician and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, said the center aims to improve access to treatment for underserved communities, including minorities and justice-involved people. She said a person dies from an overdose every 90 minutes in New York, and that justice-involved people are up to 40 times more at risk of overdosing than the general public.

“We know we're in a historic place in terms of the overdose epidemic. This is the worst we've ever experienced in this country, in this state and in this city,” Cunningham said. “This work happening here at CCA is so important, more important now than ever before, and specifically for the population that it serves.”

Black-owned bookshop provides more than just good books

By: Matthew Fischetti



Darlene Okpo always had the idea of opening up a bookstore in the back of her head since her early 20s, but it wasn’t until she became a teacher that she realized she needed to open a store that focused on Black authors.

“Instead of me trying to fight the system and change the curriculum to include multicultural education, I felt I needed to open up a black-owned bookstore that focused on black authors, writers and books that talk about BIPOC people,” Okpo told the Brooklyn Downtown Star.

Okpo says that the catalyst to open the store stemmed from her own students not feeling connected to the texts they were reading in class. She talked to a booksmart student in her class who was falling behind on a writing assignment, who admitted that she was having trouble connecting to the assigned texts that didn’t feature Black girls like her. After Opko gave her a copy of “Mondays Not Coming” by Tiffany Jackson, other students of color started soliciting recommendations.

Two years later, in May 2020, Okpo opened her 480-square-foot shop on Water Street. Okpo named the store “Adanne” after her mother’s middle name to honor the support she gave Okpo to be herself and pursue her goals.

“When we look at the history of Black-owned bookstores, we went from 300 to around 120. And people don’t know, when it comes to the history, that Black-owned bookstores have been such a staple in the community because of what we experienced in just the United States alone,” Opko said about her decision to focus on BIPOC writers. “It’s not to exclude any other ethnic group. It’s just to say that this is a store where you can get all the knowledge that, for so many years, has been banned.”

While The Strand is one of her favorite bookstores, she didn’t want Adanne to feel overwhelming with the sheer volume of inventory. Or for her customers to feel rushed to simply purchase books and get out. Instead, Okpo opted to keep a smaller inventory and use the rest of the store to create a welcoming environment.

Inside the store, you’ll find couches, floor cushions; Black Panther posters and stickers of James Baldwin; racks for store merch; white shelves that pop off the bright orange and red color themes; and plenty of African-inspired artwork. Definitely not like a Barnes and Noble or even your average hole-in-the-wall bookstore.

“I wanted it to feel like a home. As if you’re walking into your grandmother or your auntie’s or your grandfather’s living room, and you’re just receiving all of this knowledge from books,” Okpo said.

One of the favorite programs that Okpo has held at the store has been the “Black book swaps” – days where people can come into the store and swap out three of their books for others and talk to fellow readers about what they enjoyed or what they didn’t about the books. Okpo has also hosted poetry reading sessions and talks where, usually self-published,  writers can talk about their projects and field questions from readers.

“It’s not about just signing the book. The author will go over why they wrote the book, their purpose and what they want people to take out of it. It’s great because I think when it comes to local bookstores, we want to support local writers because it’s very hard to do – putting out a wonderful body of work and then being able to have a community that supports you,” Okpo said.

Starting this Friday, Adanne will be hosting “sister sessions” where women can come into the store to participate in a meditation session, do some journal writing, and have a topic discussion. She hopes for it to be an outlet for women to discuss what they’re going through and be able to heal from it.

Opko told the Brooklyn Downtown Star that she hopes to expand into a bigger space within the next one to three years and turn the store into a center for writers so that they can do research, attend writing workshops and be a true community space.

In the meantime, Okpo is looking to set up a work-study program to help get high school students job experience. She specifically wants to participate in the mayor’s new program that will help employ 100,000 New York teens over the summer, with tailored programs meant to help at-risk youth.

“That was my original mission, it took time for me to do it because I needed to set the store up and make sure that people understood what Adanne was about. It’s not just a bookstore. It’s definitely a community for people of color, families, friends, activists, and everyone to just come in, learn, share, and contribute to what we need to do in this world.”







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