The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced the availability of an additional $100 million to expand access to treatment services, with a focus on opioid addictions. The move comes as the nation is still in the midst of the worst opiate problem it has ever seen, with tens of thousands of people dying each year from heroin and prescription painkiller abuse.
In a release issued this past week, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell stated, “For those Americans who have fallen into opioid addiction and dependency, we can make the greatest impact by helping them move into recovery. This funding will expand access to medication-assisted treatment and help states and community health centers continue to improve their responses to the opioid epidemic.”
The grants will be awarded to eleven states, each of which will receive millions of dollars in additional financial support for treating opiate addiction, but with a primary focus on medication-assisted therapies. While it is great to see more money being provided for treatment, many in the recovery field would like to see that funding be spread around, especially since most believe the ultimate goal is to become drug-free rather than stay dependent on a long-term maintenance drug.
Nonetheless, we take this as a good sign that the Federal government is fully aware of the crisis we face and what appears to be a long road ahead for reducing the devastation caused by these pharmaceuticals and heroin.
Secretary Burwell has made addressing opioid abuse a priority and has developed a three-pronged initiative that also includes having better informed opioid prescribing practices and the increased use of naloxone to help reverse the effects of an overdose.