Minnesota will invest more than $17.7 million it received in federal grant funding to help combat the opioid epidemic throughout the state.

The State Opioid Response grant will provide $8,870,906 a year for the next two years and will be used to reach Minnesotans struggling with opioids with treatment in efforts to reduce deaths from opioid overdose.

The new funding will be distributed through grants to Minnesota counties, tribes and community agencies to build on ongoing work, expand services to new areas, increase the availability of emergency response drugs such as Naloxone and launch new efforts to bring an end to the opioid crisis. Counties, tribes and community agencies will be able to apply for grants through an open process starting next month.

“This federal funding is critical in Minnesota’s efforts to fight a growing opioid epidemic all across our state,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper. “This funding will support the implementation and expansion of proven strategies to offer treatment, improved emergency services and workforce development. The state of Minnesota is committed to working with all partners from the federal, state, and local level to combat the opioid crisis and improve the lives of thousands of Minnesotans.”

Minnesota’s ongoing workforce shortage has been especially acute in communities most affected by opioids and opioid addiction. The state plans to make a major investment in training for medical and mental health staff regarding treatment for opioid use disorder. Plus, the grant will support training and recruitment for new treatment workers who have had personal experience with opioids.

“The opioid epidemic has impacted individuals, families, businesses, and communities across the state. The Minnesota Department of Health is pleased to support the investments in workforce development as part of this current funding strategy,” said Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “Engaging with the business community can increase jobs and economic prosperity, education, healthy activity and social connectedness. Public health strategies like this are needed to change the cycle of addiction and address its root causes.”

This is the third federal opioid grant Minnesota has received in the past 16 months, including the two-year, $10.6 million State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis grant and a $6 million, three-year medication-assisted treatment grant. This new grant will build on these ongoing efforts and offer more resources to more communities, including the Native-American and African-American communities. By expanding treatment options to a wider range of medical providers, increasing the availability of Medication Assisted Treatment and opioid-specific services for people leaving incarceration, this grant seeks to reach more people in need of life-saving services.

About 50,000 Minnesotans received treatment for substance use disorder in 2017, and more than 11,000 hospital admissions were due to heroin and other opioids. In 2008, there were 10 deaths due to opioids in Minnesota. In 2017, this number increased to 401, out of 700 total deaths due to drug overdose.

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