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HHS awards $53M to combat opioid epidemic

By
Ed Adamczyk
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a $53 muillion grant program Wednesday to combat opioid abuse. Photo by stefanphotozemun/Shutterstock
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a $53 muillion grant program Wednesday to combat opioid abuse. Photo by stefanphotozemun/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $53 million in funding to combat opioid use disorders, reduce opioid deaths and strengthen drug misuse prevention.

The funding will be spread among 44 states, the District of Columbia and four Native-American tribes and is intended to a fight a growing form of drug abuse.

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"The epidemic of opioid use disorders involving the non-medical use of prescription opioid pain relievers and the use of heroin has had a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities across our nation. These grants will help address the key elements of the opioid crisis by promoting effective prevention efforts, preventing overdose deaths and helping ensure that people with opioid use disorders are able to receive vital treatment and recovery support services," said Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto.

Abuse of opioids, including heroin and prescription medicine, in the United States kills 78 people and results in over 1,000 emergency room visits per day, CBS News reported last week.

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Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy called it "one of our greatest public health threats and it's one that we have top respond to with speed and with urgency." Murthy recommended a better assurance that patients in pain are effectively treated; the closure of a treatment gap so that all patients and properly served; and a change of perceptions about addiction.

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The funding announced Tuesday, to be administered by SAMHSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will support six programs: 11 states will receive funding to expand access to medication-assisted treatments for patients with opioid use disorder; 12 will receive grants to reduce opioid-related deaths; 21 states and four tribes will be involved in drug misuse prevention programs; a grant to 14 states will support ongoing efforts to address high overdose death rates and improve toxicology and drug screening; funding to 13 states and the District of Columbia will be directed to improving data and evaluation procedures; and 12 states will receive funding to track fatal and non-fatal opioid overdose cases.

The Obama administration's proposed budget for the 2017 fiscal year provides up to $920 million, over two years, for states to expand opioid abuse treatment.

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