Oklahoma’s escalating epidemic of opioid addiction will finally receive a counter strike. Federal funds amounting to $11.8 million have been allocated to Oklahoma in the hopes of quelling the concerning trend of substance dependence.
President Trump set aside nearly $2 billion for the purposes of remedying the countrywide epidemic of addiction to opioids. This year, $7,650,315 will serve to reinforce the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as they attempt to alleviate the outbreak of dependence.
$4,191,979 will be allocated to Oklahoma’s Health Department. Including a SOR supplement and next year’s funding equal to that of 2019, the total calculated financial relief nearly reaches $20 million.
Impressions from Finance Benefactors
The heads of these bankrolled agencies have lauded the monetary aid coming their way. They are adamant that only proper funding will help to hold back the deluge of opioid overuse. In their words, prevention, treatment, and recovery programs sorely need adequate resources.
The spread of opioid dependence truly is rampant in Oklahoma. It reached the point where treatment facilities are struggling to handle the pressure of so many people seeking help. Red Rock Behavioral Health Services is currently beyond swamped, even with partial funding from ODMHSAS.
Cyd Oakes, the Substance Use Disorders director at RRBHS, attests to the difficulties the agency faces. One of the primary ills right now are the waiting lists for treatment, which are becoming impossibly long. Oakes recounts putting one patient on this list, only to see over two hundred other people on the list before them.
But Oakes sees the aforementioned federal funds as a blessing. She guarantees that the additional resources will prove most helpful in tilting the scales in their favor.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health will also find many a use for these new funds. Among the most welcome benefits will be tracking of overdose data. With this information, the OSDH could zero in on key issues surrounding the epidemic.
The data would also reveal how effective current treatment programs truly are. Injury Prevention Service project coordinator Avy Redus of OSDH has been touting the federal resources for this exact reason.
Redus reveals that an average of 32 people die every month due to opioid-connected overdose. These numbers actually represent an improvement. She also states that these deaths occur because of prescribed opioids. Redus concludes that, in spite of making admirable progress, much work remains to defeat this opioid crisis. And these funds may provide pivotal assistance in that effort.
Planned Uses of Federal Funds
The Injury Prevention Service at OSDH will use the federal funds to do the following:
- Form county partnerships between health departments across counties to assure better response and prevention from both state and local organizations.
- Bolster education and training of clinicians for the following: substance abuse, guidelines for prescribing opioids, and optimal practices for managing pain.
- Nurture partnerships between organizations tasked with reducing addiction risks with trauma as a cause.
- Foster improved the connection between vulnerable individuals and the appropriate services for assisting them.
- Use educational and empowering channels to reduce the stigma around substance addiction or use disorders.