The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is giving Ohio $26 million to help in its fight against the opioid epidemic.
The funds are part of $485 million in grants given to states and U.S. territories. This is the second year Opioid State Targeted Response grants were awarded. Ohio received a similar amount of money last year.
STR grants were created by the 21st Century Cures Act, and are administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration within HHS.
HHS stated in a news release that grantees have used the first year of funding to implement medication-assisted treatment; promote use of the opioid overdose reversal medicine naloxone; implement key prevention strategies; and build sustainable systems of recovery support services. According to the department, prevention efforts include communications campaigns and community-based strategies.
The department stated that the funding is part of its “five-pronged strategy” to address the opioid epidemic. In the coming months, SAMHSA is expected to release details of a separate $1 billion grant funding opportunity for states, territories and tribes hardest hit by the epidemic. Those funds are expected to be awarded this September.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called the $26 million grant good news for the state.
“My visits to treatment and recovery facilities in Mount Gilead and Columbus recently once again highlighted the glaring need for additional resources to combat this epidemic,” Portman said in a statement.
An Ohio State University study last year found that the epidemic is costing the state between $6.6 billion and $8.8 billion annually.
“For too long, Ohio communities have been desperate for the federal government to step up and provide the necessary resources to effectively combat the opioid epidemic,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a statement. “While we know there is more work to be done, this funding is a meaningful step forward for Ohio. It’s important that the state work to get this funding out to local communities quickly as they continue to battle this epidemic.”
U.S. Rep. Dave Joyce, R-Bainbridge Township, said the funding was greatly needed and he’s sure it will help many in Ohio struggling with addiction, but it’s not enough. He wants President Donald Trump’s administration to declare the epidemic a natural disaster.
“This would allow Congress to appropriate emergency supplemental funding to get to our communities now,” he said. “We need more access to beds in treatment centers. We need more full-time recovery staff. We need our doctors, nurses, and medical professionals to understand more on the risks and treatment of an overdose. We need our law enforcement to respond effectively and promptly to overdoses. This cannot be implemented until there is more help from our government.”