Ohio to receive $26 million to fight opioid epidemic

By Jordyn Grzelewski



Ohio soon will receive $26 million to use in the state’s ongoing battle against an opioid-addiction crisis that kills an average of eight Ohioans per day according to the most recent data.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is releasing $1 billion in grants that were authorized as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill with wide bipartisan congressional support that former President Barack Obama signed into law in December.

The Mahoning County Mental and Health Recovery board applied for grant funding to hire a team of certified peer recovery supporters. The board would partner with local agencies such as Meridian Health Care and Neil Kennedy Recovery Center, as well as with Mercy Health, to place peer supporters with recovering addicts. The idea is to provide additional support beyond the length of a treatment program, mental health and recovery officials said.

“We know people who can remain with support after treatment are less likely to relapse. And relapse is the highest likelihood of overdose,” said Brenda Heidinger, the agency’s associate director. Mahoning County’s proposal would cost $288,000 and serve 225 people over two years, according to an application the agency submitted to the state Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services.

The board then would seek to continue the program by getting the service approved as billable to Medicaid, or with local levy dollars.

Some of the Mahoning Valley’s elected officials lauded the release of the funding, which will be provided through the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants and administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

“This funding is badly needed by countless families in my district, in Ohio, and across the United States,” U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, said in a statement. “Not a day goes by where I am not reminded of the horrible suffering that this epidemic is inflicting on our neighbors, relatives, and friends.”

“Ohio communities have long been asking for help to combat the opioid crisis, so I’m glad to see the resources we secured last year have finally been announced and will soon help individuals and families get the treatment they need,” U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Cleveland, said in a statement.

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