An initial release of more than $2.09 million to the Maine Department of Labor this week marked the first part of more than $6.28 million awarded as part of an opioid-focused National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant.
These funds will go toward disaster relief jobs and providing employment services to eligible Maine residents as a means of reversing the effects of opioid use, addiction, and overdose on the community at large. These effects include both health and economic impacts, and the state anticipates funds will serve around 683 participants throughout nine counties.
“The epidemic of opioid abuse is devastating families and communities across the state, claiming the life of nearly one Mainer per day on average last year,” U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (D-ME) said in a joint statement. “This important funding will help address this public health crisis and give Mainers who are struggling with substance use disorders access to the treatment programs they need to overcome addiction and reenter the workforce.”
The U.S. Department of Labor awarded the grant. It stems from a 2017 declaration by the Department of Health and Human Services, which designated the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. Participants — like Maine — will be able to use the funds to provide peer recovery positions in disaster-relief jobs. Such jobs will help the afflicted access recovery resources. Employment and training services will also be provided to help those hit by opioid use reintegrate into the workforce.