Ohio to receive $64 million to fight opioid epidemic

Image Source: U.S. Air Force / Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner / MGN

WASHINGTON, DC (WTVG) - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced more than $1.8 billion in funding to states on Wednesday to continue the Trump administration’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis by expanding access to treatment and supporting near-real-time data on the drug overdose crisis. Ohio is set to receive $63.4 million of that funding through the state's Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OMHAS).

HHS is offering this funding through two separate grant programs. The first comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's State Opioid Response Grant program, formerly known as the 21st Century CURES Act, which has awarded Ohio $55.8 million for the first year.

The State Opioid Response Grant program has previously awarded grants aimed at helping states increase access to naloxone and to support access to long-term addiction treatment and recovery services. According to HHS, the grants "provide flexible funding to state governments to support prevention, treatment, and recovery services in the ways that meet the needs of their state." It is currently unclear how Ohio plans to use the funds, but that money will be funded through OMHAS.

"I’m pleased these additional resources are benefiting our state," says Senator Rob Portman, who has previously worked to secure funding for Ohio through the program. "This is another positive step forward, but we must do more, and that includes combating the resurgence of meth and cocaine in Ohio."

Ohio is also set to receive an additional $8.7 million per year for three years from a CDC grant through HHS. According to HHS, the CDC funding "will help state and local governments track overdose data as close to real-time as possible and support them in work to prevent overdoses and save lives."

According to HHS, efforts to expand treatment for opioid addiction are succeeding nationally: Data suggests approximately 1.27 million Americans are now receiving medication-assisted treatment, out of approximately 2 million Americans with opioid use disorder. From 2017 to 2018, provisional counts of drug overdose deaths dropped by five percent, and overdose deaths from opioids went down 2.8 percent from 2017 to 2018. The number of individuals reporting pain reliever misuse decreased from 2017 to 2018 by 11 percent, with fewer than 10 million Americans now reporting misuse. Heroin-related opioid use disorder also decreased significantly among young adults.

That trend does not carry into Lucas County, however. According to numbers from the Lucas County Coroner's Office released in July, NW Ohio is among the leading regions when it comes to overdose deaths related to heroin and opioids per capita.