Office of Behavioral Health receives $30 million grant to address opioid addiction |

Office of Behavioral Health receives $30 million grant to address opioid addiction

Summit Daily staff report

The Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Behavioral Health received a massive grant last month to help address the state’s ongoing efforts to combat opioid addiction. The grant comes courtesy of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and is worth upwards of $30 million over the next two years.

With the new funding, the department will work to increase access to substance use treatment, prevention and recovery services for people suffering from opioid use disorder. These services are available to those addicted or dependent on prescription painkillers, like OxyContin or Vicodin, as well as illegal substances like heroin and fentanyl.

“This grant will bring expanded opioid treatment services to the state of Colorado, specifically the rural communities,” said Dr. Robert Werthwein, director of the Office of Behavioral Health.

Plans for the new funding will emphasize expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT is a treatment that includes traditional group and individual therapy, along with anti-craving medications like methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone that help reduce relapses and increase chances for long-term recovery. In addition, the grant will fund six new mobile health units that will travel around rural and frontier communities to provide training for doctors and nurses to prescribe MAT, and payment assistance for treatment for uninsured people.

The mobile units — each staffed with a nurse, masters level counselor and peer navigator with conferencing and telemedicine capabilities — will focus on underserved areas with high overdose rates and minimal treatment options.

Other grant activities include purchasing and training individuals in the use of the “life saving overdose drug” Naloxone, expansion of the Lift the Label anti-stigma campaign, expansion of family support services, and beginning hospital pilot programs to promote safe prescribing and pain management among others.

“OBH has been working for the past year to build new partnerships with hospitals, jails, opioid treatment programs, payers and people in recovery,” said Werthwein. “These partnerships are essential to building sustainable programs that will continue long after the grant is over.”

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