Legislation would expand opioid grants

The U.S. House recently voted to authorize the State Opioid Response Grant Authorization Act for $9 billion over the next six years.

The grants provide state governments with funding to support opioid prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. States can use the grants to expand treatment and recovery options, train individuals to administer overdose reversal medication, and provide additional treatment beds.

According to preliminary data during the first three months of 2020, fatal opioid overdoses spiked 16 percent, and overdose deaths have increased in more than 40 states since the start of the pandemic.

The pandemic has worsened feelings of depression, social isolation, and anxiety, according to experts, while several treatment centers and recovery programs either closed or scaled back services. In addition, quarantines, lockdowns, and economic uncertainties have contributed to the increase, according to the White House’s drug policy office.

“As we continue to combat coronavirus, we also need to make sure we don’t ignore the spiraling drug epidemic,” U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) said. “These funds will help address a devastating problem in our region and throughout Florida.”

Buchanan sought in May to include additional federal funding for mental health services for senior citizens in any future coronavirus relief bill.

Melina Druga

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