Government grant announced to fight opioid crisis in West Virginia

By Dee Thompson | May 11, 2017

CHARLESTON – West Virginia will receive a $5,881,983 grant to fight the opioid crisis in his state, announced U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) on April 21. The grant comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The prevention and treatment of opioid addiction are the aims of the bipartisan bill, knows as the 21st Century Cures Act. In December 2016, the Senate passed the bill, which Jenkins had supported in the House in November 2016.

“This grant will help West Virginia combat the drug crisis and offer more treatment options for people seeking a path out of addiction," Jenkins said on his website about the grant. "I was proud to fight for funding in the 21st Century Cures Act and made sure that West Virginia would receive help in addressing this crisis plaguing our communities. Our community and recovery leaders already have plans on how to put these funds to work to help others, and I know these plans will make a real different in our fight. I will continue to champion West Virginia’s needs and make sure we get the resources we need to stop this public health crisis.” 

“The grant will fund expanded access to treatment, education and prevention, Jenkins told The West Virginia Record. "They will be used to further five key strategies, as identified by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department: strengthening public health surveillance, advancing the practice of pain management, improving access to treatment and recovery services, targeting availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs, and supporting cutting-edge research.”

Recipients of the money will be carefully selected, as he notes, “The grant money will be administered by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, and DHHR will select the recipients.

"This is the first year of two years of grants from HHS under the 21st Century Cures Act.”

Jenkins and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) announced that all 50 states will received the grants, and the total amount awarded is $485 million.

As Capito noted on her website, “I applaud the president and Secretary (Tom) Price for providing the resources I advocated for in the 21st Century Cures Act toward combating the opioid epidemic. This is an important step, but one of many we must take. The priorities the secretary outlined are welcomed and needed. I agree with him that every effort and available resource should be at our disposal to fight this scourge that is harming so many West Virginians.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, West Virginia in 2015 had the highest rate of death due to drug overdose in the nation (41.5 per 100,000) and 725 overdose deaths. A March 2017 analysis by the Associated Press, using data from the West Virginia Health Statistics Center, showed that at least 818 people in West Virginia died of drug overdoses in 2016.

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