PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island’s Senators and Congressmen were able to announce Wednesday that funding from the federal government has been secured to help aid the fight against opioid addiction.
According to a news release, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative will provide $1,926,300 to help the state boost medication-assisted treatment, prevention, and overdose reporting.
The overdose and addiction epidemic is the most urgent public health crisis that ocean state is currently facing, says Governor Raimondo.
Statistics from the Obama administration show that Rhode Island is well above the national average in terms of deaths due to drug poisoning: 23.4 per 100,000 Rhode Islander’s lost their lives in 2014, as opposed to the 14.7 per 100,000 people as a national average.
As also stated in the news release, in 2015, 258 people were killed as a result of overdose in Rhode Island. This number is larger that the number of those killed in homicides, suicides, and car accidents combined.
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“This funding will provide critical, life-saving support for efforts to treat those most vulnerable to overdose,” said Congressmen David Cicilline, who is an original co-sponsor of the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act, which aimed to provide $600 million this year in additional funding to fight opiate addiction.
Senator Jack Reed, also a member of the Appropriations Committee, stated that, “Congress must work together on a bipartisan basis to pass additional funds so states can increase access to overdose and addiction treatments.” This rebuke came after Republicans in D.C. blocked the bill from going further.
Another Rhode Island Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse, helped author the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, to help prevent and treat addiction. This was signed into law by the President on July 22, 2016. He added, “the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act gives communities, law enforcement, and health professionals tools to end this public health crisis. Congress must take swift action to back up those programs with resources to keep people from getting hooked and to help every American suffering from addiction get the treatment and recovery support they need.”
The award money will be divided to spend $1 million on expanding access to medication-assisted treatment for those struggling with abuse and the remaining $926,300 to “improve prescription drug monitoring programs, encourage safe prescribing practices, and improve overdose reporting and data sharing with professionals working to prevent opioid-involved overdoses locally and regionally,” according to the statement.
Governor Raimondo assured these efforts will be accompanied by $3.5 million in state funds.
“This infusion of federal funds, paired with a commitment at the state level to address the root causes of addiction, will go a long way to supporting the health care and law enforcement professionals fighting this crisis on the front lines, and giving Rhode Islanders the help they need to treat addiction and related mental health conditions,” explained Congressman Langevin.
Nationwide, $53 million has been awarded to fight the cause from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Opioid Initiative.