By G. Wayne Miller
CRANSTON, R.I. — Members of the state’s congressional delegation gathered Tuesday with advocates to mark a significant increase of federal funding to Rhode Island for efforts to combat the opioid crisis. The state will be getting $12.55 million in funding this year, up from $2.1 million in 2017, officials said.
“Tackling the opioid epidemic requires coordination and commitment at the federal, state, and local level,” said Sen. Jack Reed, speaking at the main offices of CODAC Behavioral Healthcare. “I am working hard in the Senate to provide reinforcements in the battle against opioid addiction and we need to get these funds to the frontlines where they can have the most impact and help save lives.”
Substance Use and Mental Health Leadership Council President and CEO Susan Storti said, “These funds will provide an opportunity to continue the development of comprehensive, community-driven, multidisciplinary and recovery-oriented responses to the severity of the situations associated with the opioid epidemic.”
“Combating the opioid overdose epidemic requires a whole of society effort, from health services to interdiction of illicit fentanyl,” said Rep. James Langevin. “The healthcare professionals at CODAC provide vital opioid addiction treatment and programming services to Rhode Islanders. Unfortunately, the need for these services still outstrips CODAC’s capacity.”
“Rhode Island has felt the impact of the opioid crisis more than most places in our country,” said Rep. David Cicilline, who serves on the House Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. “Although we have made progress, we all know that there is much more work left to be done.
“The only way we’re going to stop this epidemic is if every level of government — federal, state, and local — works together to implement a strategy that helps those suffering from addiction get the help they need, addresses the over-prescription of opiate painkillers, and focuses first and foremost on the preservation of human life.”
Rhode Island is among the top 10 states with the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths, according to the latest statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.