In September 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded over $1 billion in opioid-specific grants to help combat the drug overdose crisis. We have written about this crisis which caused 72,000 deaths in 2017 and about a year ago here.

It appears as if at the state level, various things have been learned about what works well and what doesn’t. Says Secretary Alex Azar in the HHS article:

“The more than $1 billion in additional funding that we provided this week will build on progress we have seen in tackling this epidemic through empowering communities and families on the frontlines.”

The Award supports HHS’s Five-point Opioid Strategy, which shows progress at the national level:

  • Better prevention, treatment and recovery services
  • Better data
  • Better pain management
  • Better availability of Overdose-reversing drugs
  • Better research

The bulk of these grants ($930 million) is awarded to the 50 states via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). A breakdown by state can be seen at the SAMHSA.gov website here. Here is a map indicating the $ amounts awarded by state:

(Data from: SAMHSA Individual Grants: https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/TI-18-015;
State Population as of 2018: http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/)

A billion dollars sounds like a lot of money, but when distributed by the total population it is only about $3 per person in the United States. The awards by state are quite uneven: From as high as $17.02 for New Hampshire to as low as $1.39 for Kansas. (Not to mention $30.03 for Washington, DC – which was left out of the chart as it skews the color legend!)

West Virginia thankfully does get a high allocation as it still dominates the overdose mortality statistics.

Another roughly $400 million has been awarded through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The majority of that ($352 million) is to increase access to substance use disorder and mental health services to 1,232 community health centers across the nation.

Another ~$190 million has been awarded through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mostly for preventing opioid-related overdoses, deaths, and other outcomes.

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