New York state is starting to dip into the more than $2 billion in money from nationwide settlements from opioid manufacturers and distributors to expand addiction treatment programs, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Friday announced. 

The first grants will amount to $7.5 million in funding for providers and addiction treatment programs to create low-threshold buprenorphine services. The drug is an FDA-approved medication to treat addiction. 

"Far too many New Yorkers have been lost to the scourge of opioid overdoses and addiction," Hochul said. "This funding, through the Opioid Settlement Fund, will help bring new hope to those struggling with substance use disorder, remove barriers to treatment that saves lives, and turn the tide of the opioid crisis in our state."    

The money was announced as the state is contending with a historic rise in overdose deaths in the last several years. The Department of Health this week announced opioid-related overdose deaths increased by 14% in 2021 compared to the prior year. 

Nationally, overdose deaths are on the rise as public health officials are also contending with the spread of highly addictive drugs like fentanyl and xylazine. 

Funding will be available in grants of up to $500,000 for 15 programs statewide in New York. Eligible providers include clinics, hospitals, syringe services programs and harm-reduction programs. 

"The opioid epidemic continues to affect all of us, as Americans and New Yorkers, and the Department of Health applauds Governor Hochul's State of the State proposed interagency approach to harm reduction to save lives through treatment of opioid addictions," said Acting Health Commissioner James McDonald. "As a result, the Department of Health continues to alert the public to the dangers of opioids through social media messages and other outlets, encouraging New Yorkers to recognize the signs of overdose and to take advantage of the resources available through the Opioid Overdose Prevention Program and the Department's new statewide standing order for naloxone."