RI Delegation Announces Second $2.1 Million Round of Federal Funding for RI Opioid Response

Apr 24, 2018

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced $2.1 million in federal funding for Rhode Island’s Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) to stem the opioid epidemic that claimed the lives of hundreds of Rhode Islanders last year.  The funding is part of a second $485 million round of grants nationwide that was authorized in 2016 by Congress in the 21st Century Cures Act, which allocated $1 billion in funding for states to prevent and treat addiction.

The first $2.1 million round of funding from the 21st Century Cures Act was vital to Rhode Island’s multi-pronged approach to fighting opioid addiction.  The funding allowed BHDDH to boost prevention efforts, expand medication-assisted treatment, increase fentanyl testing, and purchase more than 1,300 lifesaving doses of Naloxone. 

“In a small, tight-knit state like Rhode Island, each of the more than 300 lives we lost last year to accidental overdoses sent ripples of grief through our communities.  There are glimmers of hope that suggest we’re beginning to turn the tide on this epidemic, and this funding will be put to good use building on the hard-fought progress we’ve made preventing addiction and helping those on the long, noble path of recovery,” said Senator Whitehouse, who is a lead author of the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), the sweeping law guiding the federal response to the opioid epidemic. 

“These federal funds will help provide needed reinforcements in Rhode Island’s fight to combat the opioid crisis.  We need to ensure people who need help have access to life saving treatments.  I will continue pressing for additional funds and tools to combat this crisis and expand and improve treatment and prevention services,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.

Many states are using funding from the 21st Century Cures Act to support work that aligns with the reforms of CARA, which was signed into law a few months before the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016.  CARA included programs to expand medication-assisted treatment, improve prescription drug monitoring programs, support those in recovery, and promote comprehensive state responses to the opioid crisis.  Earlier this year, Whitehouse and Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the CARA 2.0 Act to increase the funding authorization levels for certain key CARA programs enacted in 2016 and to put in place additional policy reforms to help combat the opioid epidemic.

“The opioid epidemic has claimed the lives of too many Rhode Islanders.  Although we have made some important progress providing much-needed resources to help individuals struggling with opioid addiction, there is so much more we can and must do,” said Congressman Langevin. “This second round of grant funding will build on the state’s successful efforts to provide critical treatment and prevention services to combat this public health crisis and help more Rhode Islanders get on the road to recovery.”

“Beating the opioid epidemic requires putting resources into the hands of professionals trained in helping those suffering from addiction recover and get their lives back on track,” said Congressman Cicilline. “That’s exactly what this funding does. I was proud to be a co-sponsor of this critical legislation. These investments are playing an important role in turning the tide against this epidemic. I am pleased that Congress was able to work in a bipartisan way to give our state the resources we need.”

There were 323 accidental drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island last year, which was down from 336 in 2016, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.

“We are very pleased to receive the second year of funding for our Opioid State Targeted Response grant from SAMHSA,” said Rebecca Boss, BHDDH Director.  “This will allow us to expand important programs and initiatives that have proven successful during the first year of funding.  We have plans to continue integrating Medication Assisted Treatment in healthcare settings across the state, expand our Safe Stations program, continue funding our seven Regional Prevention Coalitions, as well continuing other initiatives from Year 1 of funding.  We are thankful for the continued support from Senator Whitehouse regarding this important initiative.”

The 21st Century Cures Act grant is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.