PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s opioid death rate ranked 11th instead of 9th in 2017 thanks to the medical community and the Governor’s Opioid Addiction Working Group, who’ll get $17 million more to keep improving.
In 2017, there were 277 overdose deaths involving opioids in Rhode Island, according to drugabuse.gov—an age-adjusted rate of 26.9 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to the average national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons.
Thursday, U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced the state is receiving $17.1 million in federal funding to combat the state’s opioid epidemic and support prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is awarding the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) $4.5 million to spend on better tracking of overdose deaths so authorities have access to data faster. The CDC grant — which amounts to about $300 million nationwide this year — is being split up between 47 states. And over the next two years, about $600 million more is scheduled to be awarded, subject to appropriations.
In addition, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is allocating nearly $12.6 million to Rhode Island through State Opioid Response (SOR) grants. These grants provide funding to states to help reduce overdose related deaths through prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. Each state receives not less than $4 million through the program, with additional funding provided to the states with the highest mortality rates due to drug overdoses.
“Rhode Island is making progress to combat the opioid epidemic, and these federal funds will bolster the state’s efforts to support effective prevention, treatment, and recovery programs, said Reed, who serves on the Appropriations Committee, and helped lead efforts to secure this funding in the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act of 2019. “I’m pleased Rhode Island has been granted this additional federal assistance to help save lives, improve treatment, and address this public health crisis.”
On average, 130 Americans lose their lives to a drug overdose involving opioids every day, according to the CDC. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health and statistics compiled by the state’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force, 314 Rhode Islanders died of accidental drug overdoses in 2018. That number marks a slight decline from the previous year.
Nationally, there were about 68,557 overdose deaths in 2018, about a 5 percent decline from 72,224 deaths in 2017. This marks the first decline in drug overdose deaths since 1990.