Mahoning Valley to receive $685K to fight opioid addiction


By Jordyn Grzelewski

jgrzelewski@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The Mahoning Valley will receive $685,000 in new grant funding this year to aid its response to the opioid crisis.

The funding comes from the $26 million the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services will give out this year to combat opioid addiction. The money will be provided through the State Targeted Response to Opioid Crisis Grants and administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The 21st Century Cures Act, a federal bill that authorized $1 billion in grant funding nationwide to battle opioid addiction, was signed into law by former President Barack Obama in December.

Locally, Trumbull County is the biggest beneficiary of the grant program. The Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board will receive $500,000 in fiscal year 2018, which begins in July.

Trumbull County is one of the hardest hit in the state in terms of overdose deaths and was ranked in the highest-priority tier in the grant application process. According to the most recent state data, 314 Trumbull County residents died of unintentional drug overdoses between 2010 and 2015, with 2016 and 2017 on track to be even worse.

“It’s a significant amount of money, and it’s going to help us buy a lot more services for the people who need it,” said agency Executive Director April Caraway. “My only concern is the capacity, because most of the legitimate treatment agencies have waiting lists, and we want to make sure we’re getting people into the places they need to get into.”

The agency will put the money into several initiatives: physician recruitment for addiction-treatment agencies; offsetting the costs of inpatient treatment (Caraway said a single day of inpatient treatment costs about $450); and paying peer support workers to assist people who are in recovery.

Mahoning County, which will receive $140,000 from the grant program, also plans to hire peer support workers. Those workers will be stationed at treatment agencies and in an emergency room.

Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board, said the initiative responds to a need.

“Right now we’re going through our budget meetings with our agencies. One of the primary things they’re all talking about is having more recovery coaches,” Piccirilli said. “When people get support in recovery, there’s much less chance for relapse.”

“It’s just a perfect time,” he said.

The Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Board will receive $45,000.

“Our plan is to partner with the Columbiana County Department of Job and Family Services, Child Protective Services and the Counseling Center, a Columbiana County treatment provider, to provide outreach to pregnant women and parents of children age 5 and under who are abusing opiates,” said Executive Director Kathleen Chaffee.

Outreach will be done by a recovery coach employed by the Columbiana County Counseling Center, Chaffee said.

“Recovery coaches are people far along in their own recovery from addiction who are trained to mentor, encourage and support people who are abusing drugs,” she explained.

This round of funding is the first of two. County agencies do not yet know how much money they will receive the second year.

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