HHS Awards Funds for Drug Prevention, Recovery School Efforts

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pexels, Creative Commons)

The US Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $53 million in funding to a total of 44 states, as well as four tribes and the District of Columbia, in an effort to increase access to resources for opioid use disorders.  The department hopes that this will help reduce the amount of opioid-related deaths and boost drug use prevention programs.

Funding will also go toward the improvement of data collection and analysis pertaining to opioid misuse and overdose.  In addition, it is believed that the funding will support better tracking of fatal as well as nonfatal opioid overdoses:

“The epidemic of opioid use disorders involving the non-medical use of prescription opioid pain relievers and the use of heroin has had a devastating impact on individuals, families and communities across our nation,” said Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto.

“These grants will help address the key elements of the opioid crisis by promoting effective prevention efforts, preventing overdose deaths and helping ensure that people with opioid use disorders are able to receive vital treatment and recovery support services,” she said.

The Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Prescription Drugs Grant will award Vermont as much as $9 million.  The goal of the program is to increase awareness concerning the dangers of sharing medications while at the same time taking a closer look at the risks of over-prescribing.  The program also seeks to raise community awareness through prescription drug misuse education and activities which will be offered to schools, communities, parents, and patients, reports Jennifer Sheahen for WPTZ.

Meanwhile, the Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States program will bring $11.5 million to New York State to be put toward the ongoing efforts of awardees.  The funding will allow awardees to conduct more research on a number of topics, including high overdose death rates, improved toxicology, and drug screening.

The state will also be able to increase prescription drug monitoring programs and further prevention efforts, while at the same time implementing strategies that will increase safe prescribing practices.

Efforts to prevent opioid misuse and overdose include the creation of recovery high schools, which offer students traditional academic classes as well as group therapy, 12-step meetings, and regular drug testing.

It is believed that there are close to 1.3 million 12 to 17-year-olds who have substance abuse disorders in the United States.  This age group accounts for 12% of all who check in to publicly funded rehab facilities.  However, nearly half of all students who return to traditional public schools relapse within a year.  Those who do are more likely to skip school or drop out altogether, writes Teresa Wiltz for The Fiscal Times.

Recovery school supporters suggest that they help to decrease the chances of a relapse, saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars by keeping teenagers out of the criminal justice system.

There are currently 27 public or charter recovery high schools in 11 states.  Florida is scheduled to open its first such school this month, with multiple other states to soon follow suit.