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Local agency seeks funding from federal grants to combat opioid epidemic

Bluefield Daily Telegraph - 9/16/2017

Sept. 16--PRINCETON -- A local agency working to combat the opioid addiction epidemic gripping the region will seek funding from an extra $144 million in federal grant funds to prevent and treat opioid addiction.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that it has awarded an additional $144.1 million in grants to prevent and treat opioid addiction in support of President Trump's commitment to combat the opioid crisis. The grants will be administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

"Those supporting prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in our local communities are heroes in our nation's battle against the opioid crisis," HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D. said. "On our nationwide listening tour, we have heard how critical federal resources can empower their efforts to meet the challenges of substance abuse and addiction, especially with the opioid crisis. These grants will help expand treatment and recovery services to pregnant and postpartum women who are struggling with substance abuse, train our first responders to effectively use overdose reversing drugs, improve access to medication-assisted treatment, and increase long term recovery services. Together, we can heal communities and save lives."

According to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2016 an estimated 11.8 million people misused opioids in the past year, including prescription pain relievers and heroin. Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2016 suggests the number of drug overdose deaths, most of them due to opioids will likely top 60,000.

"Opioid use disorders continue to plague our nation," Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use said. "These funds will support and expand prevention, treatment and recovery services in America's communities."

Executive Director Greg Puckett of Community Connections, Inc. in Princeton said his organization would be seeking grants from the $144 million that's becoming available.

"Certainly," Puckett stated. "One of the things we're doing now is working with state officials to get information. Community Connections is one of the six prevention lead organizations in West Virginia, and we're going to try to work with the state to get as many opportunities for southern West Virginia as we can."

For example, Community Connections is working with Raleigh and Mercer Counties, which are considered high-need counties with opioid problems, on a prescription drug overdose grant in cooperation with West Virginia University, he said.

"I"m hoping that we're going to be able to have conversations with these state folks," Puckett said, adding that the $144 million will filter to the states from the federal level.

Puckett said Community Connections currently has three to four grant applications which are pending. Knowing that another $144 million is becoming available "is good news."

The first four of the six grant programs listed below were authorized in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016, (P.L. 114-198). CARA authorized funding to fight the opioid epidemic through prevention, treatment, recovery, overdose reversal, and other efforts, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The fifth grant program listed, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), received an increase in funding for opioids in the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill.

SAMHSA is issuing the funding through the six grant programs listed below in the following amounts:

First Responders -- Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act -- $44.7 million. The purpose of this program is to provide training and medication for emergency treatment of opioid overdose. State Pilot Grant for Treatment of Pregnant and Postpartum Women -- Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act -- $9.8 million. The purpose of the program is to support family-based services for pregnant and postpartum women with a primary diagnosis of a substance use disorder, including opioid use disorders.

Building Communities of Recovery -- Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act -- $4.6 million. The purpose of this program is to increase the availability of long-term recovery support for substance abuse and addiction.

Improving Access to Overdose Treatment -- Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act -- $1 million. The purpose of this program is to expand access to FDA-approved drugs or devices for emergency treatment of opioid overdose.

Targeted Capacity Expansion: Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) -- Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction -- $35 million. The purpose of this program is to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for persons with an opioid use disorder seeking treatment.

Services Grant Program for Residential Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women -- $49 million. The purpose of this program is to expand services for women and their children in residential substance abuse treatment facilities, among other services.

The funding will be distributed to 58 recipients, including states, cities, healthcare providers and community organizations. The funds will be awarded for three to five years, subject to availability and depending on the program.

Earlier this year, HHS Secretary Price outlined five strategies to provide the Department with a comprehensive framework to combat the ongoing opioid crisis: improving access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services, including the full range of MAT; targeting the availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; strengthening public health data and reporting; supporting cutting-edge research on pain and addiction; and advancing the practice of pain management.

These awards follow a separate award of $485 million in grants in April 2017 -- provided by the 21st Century Cures Act -- to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and the free associated states of Palau and Micronesia by SAMHSA for opioid abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery.

-- Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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(c)2017 the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.)

Visit the Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, W.Va.) at bdtonline.com

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