President Trump announced on Wednesday that the federal government would award nearly $2 billion in grants to state and local governments to help fight the opioid epidemic. The funding to improve access to treatment and support a system to collect near real-time data on the nation’s ongoing drug overdose crisis was announced at a White House press conference on Wednesday afternoon by the president and Trump administration officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that more than $900 million in new funding for a cooperative agreement between states, territories, and localities will advance the understanding of the opioid abuse epidemic and improve prevention and response activities over three years. The CDC has released $301 million for the first year of grants.
The federal Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration will award another $932 million in State Opioid Response grants to all 50 states, according to HHS. By the end of the year, the agency will have awarded more than $9 billion dollars in grants to state and local governments to improve access to treatment and prevention services since 2017.
“These funds will be delivered to the communities where their help is most needed,” Trump said.
Addressing a National Epidemic
Over the last two decades, more than 400,000 lives have been lost to drug overdoses related to opioids. But the tide may be turning. Provisional counts show a 5% drop in overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018 and opioid overdose deaths went down by 2.8%, according to HHS data.
“Our country is seeing the first drop in overdose deaths in more than two decades, more Americans are getting treatment for addiction, and lives are being saved,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “At the same time, we are still far from declaring victory. We will continue executing on the Department’s 5-Point strategy for combating the opioid crisis, and laying the foundation for a healthcare system where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.”
The agency’s strategy to address the opioid epidemic includes better addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services; better data, better pain management, better targeting of overdose-reversing drugs, and better research.
In October 2017, President Trump declared the nation’s opioid crisis a public health emergency and the following year the White House released the Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse. The three-part plan includes reducing demand and over-prescription, reducing the supply of illicit drugs, and improving access to evidence-based treatment and prevention services.