The State has been awarded $21 million in grant funding to increase access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid and stimulant abuse, expand treatment options, and reduce opioid and stimulant overdose deaths over the next two years, the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Monday.
Today is the day that people across the country observe International Overdose Awareness Day.
“Arkansas is one of four states that has reduced the number of fatal drug overdoses over the past year,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “This confirms that our programs are working. This grant will enhance our efforts to educate and save lives.”
The State Opioid Response grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) will fund 10 different projects in Arkansas that fall into one of three categories: prevention, treatment, and recovery.
“With this additional funding, we can build upon the work we’ve already done to address opioid addiction and ensure that services are available all across the state, especially in rural areas that may have limited access today,” said Arkansas Drug Director Kirk Lane, who works with the DHS Division of Adult, Aging and Behavioral Health Services (DAABHS). “Substance Use Disorder affects people from all walks of life, and it’s going to take a strategic and coordinated effort to address the problem.”
Lane said DHS is working with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and Arkansas Community Correction on some of these projects. Included funding will be used to:
• Increase access to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) by recruiting and supporting new MAT providers. Since staff began working on this issue a year and a half ago, the number of doctors who can provide this treatment has gone from 75 to 360.
• Continue to reduce unmet treatment and recovery needs, with a focus on rural areas of the state.
• Reduce opioid overdose deaths utilizing and empowering the use of naloxone
• Reducing the stigma that surrounds substance use disorder
• Expand the use of peer recovery work, which uses people with lived substance use disorder experiences who have been in recovery for at least two years to connect with and support others who are struggling.
• Continue outreach and education about Substance Use Disorder aimed at the aging population, college students, and prescribing communities.