$10 MillionFunding Announced by HHS to Expand Treatment of Fentanyl and Other Opioid Abuse in Rural Communities

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Published June 18, 2022

$10 Million in Funding Announced by HHS to Expand Treatment of Fentanyl and Other Opioid Abuse in Rural Communities

United States / National – On June 17, 2022, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the availability of $10 million in substance misuse grant funding through the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Overdose Prevention Strategy.

The surge in synthetic opioid overdoses, including fentanyl and fentanyl-laced drug overdoses, is wreaking havoc on rural communities. This funding will assist rural communities in establishing new treatment access points to connect individuals to opioid treatment medication. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a “whole-patient” approach to substance abuse treatment. The funding announced today also supports the President’s National Drug Control Strategy and his Unity Agenda priority of combating the overdose epidemic.

“Behind every overdose death is a family and a community,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “When we fund partnerships that increase access to effective, evidence-based treatment for rural residents, we not only save lives, but also support families and strengthen communities. Addressing the overdose and addiction epidemic is an urgent priority for the Biden-Harris Administration, and we will continue doing all we can to support those struggling with substance misuse across the nation.”

Prescription opioid overdose deaths increased 376 percent from 3,442 in 1999 to 16,416 in 2020. Overdose deaths have largely been characterized by illicitly manufactured synthetic opioids, including fentanyl, and, increasingly, stimulants. While overall drug overdose deaths are currently higher in urban communities than in rural communities (22.0 per 100,000 vs. 19.6 per 100,000), there has been a significant increase in both rural and urban communities nationally. Most recently, preliminary data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics show that there will be an estimated 107,622 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2021, amounting to more than 294 lives lost per day.

Rural communities face difficulties in providing opioid addiction treatment services due to limited access and workforce. More than half of all rural counties still lack a Drug Enforcement Administration-approved MAT provider, and nearly 30 percent of rural Americans live in a county without a buprenorphine provider, compared to 2.2 percent of urban Americans.

“With today’s announcement, we are taking action to support individuals and families in rural communities hit hard by overdoses,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Our priority with this funding is to increase access to life-saving treatment and help individuals build a path to recovery.”

The $10 million announced today adds to the $15 million announced last week for rural communities to combat psychostimulant misuse and overdose deaths. These investments reflect HHS’ commitment to evidence-based programs addressing opioid and stimulant misuse, as reflected in the President’s proposed budget for HHS on drug-related programs and initiatives totaling $21.1 billion across HHS for Fiscal Year 2023. This budget included funds to increase access to substance abuse prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery support services, as well as funds to strengthen the nation’s behavioral health infrastructure.

The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, administered by HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, has provided over $400 million in direct grants and technical assistance to rural communities addressing behavioral health care challenges, including substance abuse. The initiative has increased access to substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery services in over 1,500 rural communities across the country.

Applicants can begin the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program application process on Grants.gov, and applications must be submitted by Friday, July 29, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. ET. For more information, follow this link to see the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

More information about HRSA’s efforts to address barriers to substance abuse treatment in rural areas can be found by following this link to the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

Follow this link to visit the HHS Overdose Prevention Strategy webpage to learn more.