Delegation Announces $650,000 in Federal Funding to Fight Opiate Addiction in Rhode Island

Rhode Island Department of Health estimated 248 drug overdose deaths in 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced $650,000 in funding through the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) that will provide resources for East Bay Community Action and Thundermist Health Center to fight opiate addiction in Rhode Island. Last December, the Congressional delegation voted to support $154 million in HRSA funding included in the FY2016 federal funding bill.

“This grant provides critical support to East Bay Community Action and Thundermist Health Center as they work with communities to help save lives and direct those who need assistance to available services. I will continue doing everything I can to ensure the federal government does its part to help the state fight opioid addiction, connect people with treatment and recovery services, and stamp out this heroin and prescription opioid epidemic for future generations,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and HRSA.

“In Rhode Island, addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin has claimed lives in communities big and small and touched people in all walks of life. East Bay Community Action and Thundermist are on the front lines of this crisis and need the resources to treat patients suffering an overdose, especially with lifesaving naloxone. I’m glad this funding will help them provide that care,” said Whitehouse, author of far-reaching legislation to treat addiction and promote recovery that recently passed the Senate. “Addiction is an illness that requires good treatment and compassion. I will continue the fight to make more federal support available to Rhode Islanders battling this illness and walking the noble path of recovery.”

“Opiate addiction is an epidemic in our state and nationwide, but with the appropriate resources and the right tools, it is a challenge that we can help Rhode Islanders overcome,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “We must do more to address the tragic, but preventable deaths of people who are struggling with addiction. I am confident that East Bay Community Action and Thundermist Health Center will put these funds to good use, saving the lives of Rhode Islanders who need a stronger safety net and support system to treat their addiction.”

“Opiate addiction is responsible for as many deaths today as car accidents. This national public health crisis has devastated families of all different backgrounds across Rhode Island,” said Cicilline, who is an original co-sponsor of the Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 4447) to provide $600 million in additional funding to fight opiate addiction. “This new federal funding will provide critical, life-saving resources for men and women who are struggling to break the cycle of addiction. It’s important that we continue to make the fight against opiate addiction a national priority.”

The funding announced today includes a $325,000 HRSA grant to East Bay Community Action and a $325,000 HRSA grant to Thundermist Health Center to provide the life-saving antidote naloxone and additional resources to help treat opiate abuse and addiction. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is disbursing this new federal funding using money authorized through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), which the Congressional delegation voted to pass last year.

The most recent public data from the Rhode Island Department of Health identified 248 accidental drug-related overdose deaths in 2015. The number of drug overdose deaths nationwide more than doubled from 1999 to 2013, with drug abuse and addiction accounting for as many as 2.5 million emergency room visits annually. More than 10 million Americans used prescription drugs recreationally in 2014.

Friday’s announcement comes one day after the U.S. Senate voted 94-1 to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which Senator Whitehouse introduced to help states prevent drug abuse, treat addiction, and reduce overdose deaths.