WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, together with U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings (all D-Md.) today announced that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene $815,745 in federal funds per year, for up to three years (depending on the availability of funds).
The grant will support medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for 271 patients with high-risk prescription drug or opioid addiction per year. The treatment will be available in two communities, Baltimore City and Anne Arundel County, which have had especially high rates of opioid-related emergency room visits. Maryland is one of 11 states receiving this federal funding.
“Opioid addiction – including heroin and prescription painkillers – and the deaths resulting from overdoses are devastating families and communities in every corner of Maryland,” said Senator Cardin. “We must use all available tools to help individuals with substance abuse disorders recover and begin to lead healthy, productive lives.”
“The crisis of increased heroin use in Maryland and across America is destroying families and ravaging communities. It cuts across classes, races and ages,” Senator Mikulski said. “I’m fighting to address the heroin problem head on. While we need to crack down on dealers, we also know that we can’t simply enforce our way out of this crisis. We have to help drug users break the cycle of addiction, get healthy and stay clean. That’s what these funds will do.”
“Heroin abuse has become a true epidemic in Maryland, particularly in Baltimore,” Congressman Cummings said. “This grant will provide the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with needed resources to support those struggling with addiction so they can break the cycle and stay clean.”
MAT is a comprehensive approach to address substance use disorders that combines the use of medication with counseling and behavioral therapies. According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health, the need for MAT significantly exceeds capacity, and increased access to the treatment is critical in fully addressing the epidemic of opioid abuse and dependence in United States.
According to the Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, in 2014 there were 578 heroin-related deaths in the state, 25 percent higher than previous year and more than double the total in 2010. Only 11 percent of heroin addicts who need treatment receive it according to National Institute of Drug Abuse.