HUNTINGTON - West Virginia will receive more than $35 million from two different federal grants to address the opioid epidemic in the state, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
The first grant, totaling $28,027,511, was awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through its State Opioid Response (SOR) program.
SOR grants are federal dollars funneled to individual states that provide a flexible means for state governments to support their prevention, treatment and recovery needs as best suits their unique situations.
The second grant, totaling $7,357,388, was provided through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to states and local agencies to more quickly and effectively track overdose data over the next three years.
The money comes as the state's portion of more than $1.8 billion in additional funding allotted to all 50 states and U.S. territories by the federal government to expand access to treatment options and support real-time data collection, particularly for overdoses.
"Our country is seeing the first drop in overdose deaths in more than two decades, more Americans are getting treatment for addiction, and lives are being saved. At the same time, we are still far from declaring victory," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in the department's announcement.
West Virginia's funding will be distributed through the state Department of Health and Human Services.
While there are not yet specifics for what programs will benefit through the new funding, Secretary Bill Crouch outlined a few areas of need and expressed appreciation for continued federal support.
"This additional money, as part of the State Opioid Grant, will allow additional treatment and recovery services for those suffering from a substance use disorder and will assist in expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and related services throughout our state," Crouch said.
West Virginia has been among the hardest-hit states by the opioid crisis, with its fatal overdose rate the highest in the nation. Neighboring states Ohio and Kentucky also among the states that have suffered the most from the epidemic.
Approximately 1.3 million Americans are estimated to be receiving medication treatment, out of the roughly 2 million suffering from opioid-driven substance use disorder. About 70,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdose deaths in 2018.
By the end of 2019, HHS is expected to have granted more than $9 billion to state and local governments for opioid responses.
The state of Ohio received $64,489,104 through the SAMHSA and the CDC, while Kentucky was awarded $39,134,994. Three urban counties in Ohio received additional CDC grants: Cuyahoga ($4,411,596), Franklin ($3,974,855) and Hamilton ($5,311,920).