FILE - prescription medication, drugs, opioid crisis, oxycodone

Virginia received about $20.4 million in federal grant money to fund programs to treat opioid addiction, prevent it from occurring and maintain data on the drug epidemic.

“It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Never been this way. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic.”

The Trump administration distributed about $1.8 billion worth of grants within the United States and among U.S. territories.

“[The grant money will] be used to increase access to medication and medication-assisted treatment and mental health resources, which are critical for ending homelessness and getting people the help they deserve,” Trump said when he announced the grants. “So many problems are caused by this problem. These grants will also support state and local governments in obtaining high-quality, comprehensive data so that we can help the most people and save the most lives, which is what we’re doing.”

About $15.8 million of Virginia’s money will go to the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) to be distributed to 40 local community service boards for treatment and prevention efforts throughout the commonwealth. The remaining funds will go to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to support the upkeep of data to assist prevention and treatment efforts.

Meghan McGuire, senior advisor for external affairs at the DBHDS, told The Center Square via email that the federal funds will help expand access to a lot of local programs. Some of these programs include expanding access to Naloxone kits, which treat narcotic overdoses, the Jail Opioid Diversion Program, which helps get inmates off of opioid addictions, and harm reduction programs for addicts.

Heather Board, the VDH director of the Division of Prevention and Health Promotion, told The Center Square via email that the VDH funding will mostly help maintain data to assist with treatment and prevention.

“The aim of the funding is to support recipients in getting high quality, comprehensive and timelier data on overdose morbidity and mortality, and to use the data to inform prevention efforts,” Board said. “This funding opportunity integrated two previously awarded CDC opioid grants that VDH had received. This will ensure previously funded surveillance and prevention efforts in Virginia will continue.”

Opioid deaths in Virginia remained about the same from 2017 to 2018, dropping by 15 total deaths: 1,230 to 1,215. It is on pace to increase in 2019. The commonwealth, along with much of the country, has seen a steady increase in deaths over the past decade. In the past 10 years, Virginia’s death toll more than doubled.

Staff Writer

Tyler Arnold reports on Virginia and Ohio for The Center Square. He previously worked for the Cause of Action Institute and has been published in Business Insider, USA TODAY College, National Review Online and the Washington Free Beacon.