Alexander: Tennessee Awarded $1 Million in Federal Grants to Help Prevent Opioid Abuse

Grants will help Tennessee raise awareness about dangers of sharing medication, overprescribing

Posted on August 31, 2016

MARYVILLE, Tenn., Aug. 31, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said Tennessee has been awarded $1 million in two federal grants to help prevent opioid abuse, including by raising awareness about the dangers of sharing medication and overprescribing of opioids.

“Each year, more than 1,000 Tennesseans die from opioid abuse or overdose—this is an epidemic taking more Tennessee lives than car accidents or gunshots do. The way to fight this epidemic is not to wage a distant battle from Washington, but for Washington to support those who are fighting on the front lines. This grant will help prevent opioid abuse, and raise awareness of some of the dangerous habits that lead to opioid abuse,” Sen. Alexander said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding Tennessee $1 million in two grants as part of its “Opioid Initiative” that is “focused on improving opioid prescribing practices, expanding access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and increasing the use of naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses,” according to the department. 

Tennessee is one of 21 states and tribes receiving funding through the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnerships for Prescription Drugs grant program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to raise awareness about prescription drug misuse and implement community prevention activities.  Tennessee is also one of 14 states awarded funding from the Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States program within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent overprescribing of opioids and drug overdoses.

Last September, Alexander held a roundtable in Knoxville with CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden to discuss ways public health officials, health care providers, law enforcement, and families can work together to reverse the prescription drug abuse epidemic in Tennessee and throughout the country. At the roundtable, Dr. Frieden announced Tennessee would receive a $3.4 million grant to improve the state’s programs to monitor prescription painkiller use, fight prescription drug abuse in the hardest-hit communities and spread information to doctors who are prescribing these drugs.

Last month, Alexander helped craft a legislative agreement that was passed by both Houses and signed into law by the president to help states address the opioid crisis. That bill, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, was sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and will:

  • Support education, prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts to address the opioid abuse crisis and help individuals with opioid use disorders get and stay well;
  • Provide grants to expand access to life-saving opioid overdose reversal medications and support veterans and law enforcement; and
  • Provide grants to states to carry out a comprehensive response to the opioid abuse crisis, including education, prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts.

Alexander was one of seven Senate conferees who worked with the House conferees on the legislation signed into law by the president. Alexander noted on the Senate floor that the Senate has also boosted opioid funding 542 percent over the past three years. 

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