Mississippi Awarded $3.58 Million to Combat Opioid Addiction
May 1, 2017 – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) announced in April that the Mississippi Department of Mental Health (DMH) will receive $3.58 million in federal funding to combat opioid addiction and overdose related deaths.
The State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will allow Mississippi to expand access to opioid treatment, implement a broad range of prevention strategies, train health care providers, and continue to improve prescription drug monitoring throughout the state.
“Last year, I assembled a task force to develop strategies to fight opioid addiction and overdoses in Mississippi,” said Governor Phil Bryant. “We must have every resource available to stop this scourge, so I am grateful to Sen. Cochran and everyone else involved in securing this funding to allow the Department of Mental Health to join us in this fight.”
The grant will allow DMH to continue collaborative efforts with other state agencies and continue its efforts to combat this epidemic. DMH is already collaborating with multiple state agencies, including the Department of Public Safety, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy. DMH has also been a participant in the governor’s Opioid and Heroin Study Task Force. The efforts of these agencies will address not just illicit drugs like heroin, but abuse of prescription opioids as well.
“Prescription drug abuse is a significant problem in our country and our state right now,” said Melody Winston, Director of the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services at DMH. “People often think that just because a prescription came from a doctor, they don’t have anything to worry about when taking it. Every opioid prescription has the potential to lead to addiction, and unfortunately, that’s all too often how addiction has started for many Mississippians.”
As opioid prescriptions became more widespread in recent years for common health issues like back pain, abuse and dependence of those opioids, like hydrocodone, has skyrocketed. This has led to an uptick in the use of heroin as people begin to seek out opioids when they are no longer able to get prescriptions.
Opioids were responsible for over 33,000 deaths in the United States in 2015, according to HHS. The Mississippi Department of Health attributes many accidental overdose deaths in Mississippi to a high level of opioid painkiller prescriptions.
“The opioid problem in Mississippi is serious, and this funding will help provide the state the resources needed to continue to address the issue,” Senator Cochran said. “Mississippi health officials will be able to use this funding to improve treatment options and prevent unnecessary deaths.”
In all, HHS is making $485 million available to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and six U.S. territories. These grants are formula based and administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The grantee in Mississippi is the Department of Mental Health.
DMH is supporting a better tomorrow by making a difference in the lives of Mississippians with mental illness, substance use disorders and intellectual or developmental disabilities one person at a time.