Petition Closed
Petitioning OPWDD People First and 7 others

Tell New York to Stop the Chemical Restraint of People with Disabilities


A recent New York Times expose documented the extensive overmedication of people with disabilities in residential service-provision. According to the Times, people with developmental disabilities in group homes in New York are more likely to be given Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug that also serves as a tranquilizer, than multivitamins. In many cases, psychotropic medication is prescribed as a chemical restraint to control behavior, even when it lacks any therapeutic purpose. Data from the National Core Indicators project, a national database run by the Human Services Research Institute and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services, shows that the percentage of people with developmental disabilities receiving psychotropic medications is much higher than the percentage who have the co-occurring mental health conditions that might justify their use. This is a critical issue, and it is imperative that New York's Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and State Legislature take action to address it.

Letter to
OPWDD People First
OPWDD
OPWDD Commissioner Courtney Burke
and 5 others
OPWDD Acting Deputy Executive Commissioner James Moran
OPWDD Katie Marlay
OPWDD Commissioners Correspondence Unit
New York State House
New York State Senate
I am writing as a concerned member of the disability community in response to the recent New York Times expose documenting the extensive overmedication of people with disabilities in residential service-provision. The Times' story describes an extensive issue that has plagued individuals with disabilities for decades. For example, people with developmental disabilities in group homes in New York are more likely to be given Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug that also serves as a tranquilizer, than multivitamins.

While it is possible to use these medications appropriately and ethically, lack of oversight has led to clear and systemic abuses. In many cases, psychotropic medication is prescribed as a chemical restraint to control behavior even when it lacks any therapeutic purpose. Data from the National Core Indicators project, a national database run by the Human Services Research Institute and the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disability Services, shows that the percentage of people with developmental disabilities receiving psychotropic medications is much higher than the percentage who have the co-occurring mental health conditions that might justify their use. The long term side effects of such inappropriate medication include obesity, diabetes, long term brain damage, injury, and even death.

This is a critical issue, and it is imperative that you undertake to address it through meaningful and binding regulation, data collection, and oversight. As a member of the disability community, I urge you to take action now to stop chemical restraint. New Yorkers with disabilities deserve no less.