LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A 5-year, $3 million grant to reduce opioid related deaths has been awarded DHS's Behavioral Health Services Division. The grant will help develop a program to fight prescription drug abuse and overdoses.
Opioids are generally prescribed to help patients deal with mild to severe pain. Some opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine. Recently, the opioid fentanyl has made news headlines across the nation for its illegal manufacturing and the drug behind the cause of death of pop-singer Prince.
The grant is given to DHS by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Opioid Initiative. Launce in March 2015 the initiative is designed to help improve opioid prescribing practices as well as expanding medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
The program is designed after Benton Police Department's program. Arkansas is one of 11 states to receive the grant.
"The goal of this program will be to reduce opioid-related deaths," said State Surgeon General Gred Bledsoe, M.D. "The latest data shows 236 Arkansans lost their lives in 2013 from opioid overdoses."
A state-run council will research and recommend ways to reduce opioid related deaths. They will also analyze date to determine the two or three communities with the highest benefit from such a program.