WASHINGTON, DC -- In an effort to connect Rhode Islanders struggling with mental health issues, opioid use disorder, and other behavioral health issues to treatment, recovery and prevention services, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced $11,371,485 in new federal grants for Rhode Island.  Over $7.4 million in federal State Opioid Response Grant funding will enhance statewide opioid addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.  Federal grants will also invest in local Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs), which provide access to quality mental health care to residents across the state.

“A lot of people are struggling these days with mental health and addiction issues.  Help is available and we need to connect people in need to proper care and treatment.  This federal funding will save lives.  It will expand access to mental health and addiction care,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Labor-Health and Human Services (L-HHS), who helped include $1.525 billion for State Opioid Response Grants in the 2022 appropriations law. “This increased support for mental and substance use treatment offers a critical lifeline to residents across the state and strengthens our communities.”

“Too many Rhode Island families from all walks of life have been touched by the disease of addiction,” said Senator Whitehouse, who authored the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, the law guiding the federal response to the opioid crisis.  “This funding will help get more people onto the long, noble path to recovery and provide reinforcement to the health care and public safety personnel doing the important work on the front lines of the opioid crisis.”

“As our state continues to recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to combat the concerning rise in accidental overdoses and opioid addiction in Rhode Island,” said Congressman Langevin. “I’m glad that these federal dollars will be used to expand access to mental health and addiction recovery resources, so that Rhode Islanders struggling with substance use disorders can receive the help they need.”

“Far too many Rhode Islanders have fallen victim to our nation’s opioid epidemic and we need to do all we can to not only support those in recovery, but to also boost addiction prevention programing,” said Congressman Cicilline, who fought for adequate funding for the State Opioid Response Grants Program in the 2022 appropriations law. “We need to make sure that our neighbors who are struggling with their mental health or with substance use disorder not only know that help is available, but can access that care without undue barriers or stigma. The State Opioid Response Grants Program has been saving lives since its inception, which is why I continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that we are providing enough funding to keep these grants flowing to communities like ours.”

The Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals (BHDDH) will receive $7,443,492 to help prevent opioid addiction statewide, reduce the number of prescription drug/opioid overdoses, increase access to treatment and reduce unmet needs through prevention, treatment, and gather data on addiction treatment and recovery resources.

Newport County Community Mental Health; Gateway Healthcare, Inc.; and Thrive Behavioral Health, Inc. will each receive $1 million federal grants to improve community behavioral health services.

Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP) will receive $928,000 to treat adults with opioid use disorder and provide behavioral health counseling services.

Last year, 435 Rhode Island residents died of accidental overdoses, according to RIDOH.  Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 107,000 overdose deaths in the United States between December 2020 to December 2021, a 15 percent increase from the number of overdose deaths in 2020.  Fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid -- which, in its legal form is often used to relieve pain during and after surgeries, but is prevalent on the illicit market because it’s cheap to manufacture -- played a role in about 75 percent of all overdose deaths in Rhode Island, according to RIDOH, and 66 percent of all overdose deaths nationally, according to the CDC.

The ballpark cost of the opioid epidemic is now more than $1.3 trillion and rising, according to a Forbes estimate using the same approach as economists from the CDC.

No city or town in Rhode Island has been spared the pain of this overdose epidemic.

One piece of good news is that new AMA data released this month shows opioid prescriptions have dropped in every state over the last decade, plummeting nearly 50 percent nationally.