Efforts to fight opioid epidemic bolstered by $2 million grant

DOVER — Plans for a $2 million federal grant aimed at curbing the raging opioid epidemic should be announced by the end of this month, with implementation this summer.

As the overdoses and deaths continue unabated statewide, the funds can’t arrive soon enough.

As of April 30, there had been 88 deaths suspected to be opioid related, including 10 in Kent County. Overdose is currrently the top cause of death for Americans under age 50, according to atTAck addiction.

So money from the 21st Century Cures Act through the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will be much appreciated in the First State.

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services announced it was accepting Request for Proposals on Feb. 15 and closed the process on March 9. After receiving “great interest” in the competitive bidding system, officials said this week that three providers were selected to add services in Kent, Sussex and New Castle counties with the grants.

Contracts are currently being finalized, DHSS Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Director Elizabeth Romero said Thursday.

The first year goal is for all three treatment providers to assist 300 persons with opioid use disorder through accessing medical and mental health care, housing, vocational opportunities, education and other services as part of a Centers for Excellence Model, the DHSS said when announcing the grant last winter.

“We must reduce the harm caused by this horriffic epidemic,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker in February.

“Through the Centers of Excellence model approach, our goal is to offer care to individuals suffering from opioid addiction that is high quality, comprehensive, coordinated, evidenced-based and person centered.

“The treatment hubs will not only care for the individual’s treatment needs, but also address the social determinants of health that will impact a patient’s overall health and treatment outcomes.”

A peer program is planned to enlist certified recovery specials to assist persons navigate through the system of treatment and social service, with support available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Each service center will be required to provide:

• Comprehensive substance use disorder evaluation.

• Development of an individually tailored treatment plan.

• Case management.

• Medication-assisted treatment induction and maintenance, including the use of all three Food and Drug Administration-approved medications required – buprenorphine and vivitrol by the start of the program, and methadone within six months.

• Group and individual counseling.

• Links to recovery/transitional housing.

• Psychiatric evaluation/treatment to include trauma-informed principles.

• Co-management of behavioral and medical disorders.

• Motivational strategies to encourage individuals with opioid use disorder to stay engaged in their treatment plans.

• Prescription Monitoring Program checks and fluid drug screens as required by DSAMH.

A DHSS 24/7 Crisis Hotline can connect anyone struggling with addiction to treatment and recovery options. In New Castle County, call 1-800-652-2929. Or in Kent and Sussex counties, call 1-800-345-6785. Online information on treatment and recovery services in Delaware or nearby states is available at www.HelpIsHereDE.com.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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