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Virginia receives $9.7 million grant to fight opioid crisis

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced on Monday that the Commonwealth will receive $9.76 million in federal grant funding to help fight opioid dependence.

The epidemic that is affecting many Americans across a variety of socio-economical backgrounds has hit Virginia hard with 1,200 Virginians dying from opioid overdoses in 2017.

According to the Governor’s office, The grant money will be used to continue efforts from the previous year to purchase medication, support medical staff necessary to prescribe and oversee clinical treatment, and to remove barriers to accessing treatment, such as transportation. These funds will also help provide the counseling and case management necessary to help individuals with opioid addiction stabilize their lives and begin the process of recovery.

The funding of certain medicines, such as naloxone, is key to helping Virginia fight addiction. Northam’s office said that Virginia emergency departments reported more than 10,000 visits for opioid and heroin overdose treatment, and EMS workers reported more than 4,000 uses of the drug, plus others like it, used as an overdose-reversal drug.

“The opioid crisis has had a devastating toll on communities across the Commonwealth and there are still too many Virginia families losing loved ones to addiction and overdose,” said Governor Northam. “We know that for many Virginians, CSBs are the primary provider of mental health services and substance abuse treatment. With these grant funds, we can continue to build upon the important partnerships between public safety and public health officials, and also provide the critical medications, counseling and support services to help individuals in recovery.”

Though the providing of key drugs to fight the epidemic is an important part, funding for community services, coalitions and hospital partnerships are also apart of the budget.

These facilities and community partners are run through Community Service Boards, 24 of which were selected as part of Virginia’s grant application. The commonwealth selected these CBSs based on a statistical measures of need. What amount of money will go to each group is still being determined.

In-depth layout of how grant funds will be used to fight the opioid epidemic:

  • DBHDS will allocate roughly half of the total grant funds to 24 locally run community services boards—the organizations that are responsible for providing community-based behavioral health services. This will increase access to medically assisted treatment (MAT), which is the evidence-based gold standard for treatment of opioid addiction.
  • $1.8 million will be used to support new and existing evidence-based strategic prevention framework grantees. These grantees, all of which are local community coalitions, will address community gaps to prevent further drug and heroin abuse. The prevention funding will also support media campaigns in communities most impacted by the overdose crisis in Virginia.
  • The remaining funding will support the development of partnerships with hospitals that will connect individuals who overdose with peers in recovery as well as continued funding of warm lines that offer peer support and information to callers.