As the number of accidental deaths from opioids and heroin in Ohio and across the country rise to that above car accidents, departments of the federal government announced this week an array of new programs, grants, and events.
The White House announced President Obama’s proclamation for the Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week.
“During Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, we pause to remember all those we have lost to opioid use disorder, we stand with the courageous individuals in recovery, and we recognize the importance of raising awareness of this epidemic,” said President Obama Sept. 16.
The awareness week was declared for Sept. 18 through Sept. 24, 2016, and states across the country marked the occasion with events and ceremonies highlighting awareness for the opioid and heroin epidemic.
The United States Department of Agriculture has begun to designate more programs and grant money for rural communities.
In a statement issued Monday, USDA secretary Tom Vilsack said addiction resource information will be displayed in local offices, including at Farm Service Agencies, Rural Development, and Natural Resources Conservation Services offices.
The Rural Health and Safety Education grant program could also be used for communities to conduct drug addiction awareness efforts, said Vilsack.
The USDA is rolling out a new program that provides distance learning and tele-medicine program grants to rural communities for those who can’t get localized treatment.
The Department of Justice announced Monday that more than $10 million in grant money is now available to state law enforcement agencies to treat incarcerated inmates and for training them for reintegration into the community.
President Obama has called on Congress to pass legislation to fund $1.1 billion in combating the epidemic.
According to the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services, drug overdose deaths rose 366 percent between 2000 and 2012.
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, co-authored by Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, was signed into law by President Obama in July, becoming the first time the federal government has provided money to target the opioid and heroin epidemic.
Sen. Portman announced Thursday that $37 million is being made available now through Dec. 9 after he urged CARA funding to be a priority in a continuing resolution, instead of waiting for funding in fiscal year 2017.
Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General, has spent time in recent weeks speaking at different events throughout the state and is calling for treatment over incarceration and for more education about drug abuse.
Public service announcements in television and radio will premiere. Filming for one announcement was done in Scott County, Ind., where an increase in HIV infections was linked to injection use among opioid and heroin users.
Reach Ashley on Twitter @ashbunton or at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355