Over $101 million has been awarded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help combat the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency by the HHS in 2017, with over 130 people dying every day from an opioid-related overdose. In 2018, 10.3 million people misused prescription opioids and 2 million people are estimated to have an opioid use disorder, according to the HHS.

In 2017, the HHS unveiled a 5-point plan to combat the opioid epidemic. The plan includes improving access to treatment and recovery services, promoting overdose-reversing drugs, improving public health surveillance in order to better understand the epidemic, supporting addiction research, and advancing pain management practices.

The money was awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and was spread over 116 organizations across 42 states and the District of Columbia, according to a press release.

Many of the organizations chosen target high-risk rural communities. The HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy awarded a total of $89 million to 89 organizations across 38 states for this purpose. The funding, which is part of the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Implementation, will be used to combat substance use disorder and opioid use disorder specifically in rural communities. 

Another $12.5 million was awarded to 28 organizations to help expand behavioral health services for families affected by the opioid crisis and substance abuse, according to the press release. The funding will help train and recruit professionals to work with young people in order to assist the Opioid-Impacted Family Support Program. This program works to increase the number of behavioral health professionals by providing tuition assistance to trainees.

“President Trump has focused on expanding access to treatment for Americans with substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, and that commitment continues during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in the press release. “The pandemic has created particular stresses for many Americans struggling with substance use disorders, and these HRSA awards will help strengthen prevention, treatment, and recovery services, especially in rural America, at this difficult time.”

REFERENCE
HHS Awards Over $101 Million to Combat the Opioid Crisis [News Release]. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services; August 6, 2020. Accessed August 6, 2020.