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CEDAR CITY — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded millions in grants to Utah organizations to fight the growing opioid crisis.
Southern Utah University was among those awarded nearly $1 million for its Utah Center for Rural Health. This investment will enable the Health Resources and Services Administration-funded rural organizations to establish and expand access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services.
The award supports HHS’s Five-Point Opioid Strategy introduced under President Donald Trump in 2017. The number of patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction at HRSA-funded health centers increased 142% from 2016 to 2018, and the number of patients receiving buprenorphine, a common form of medication-assisted treatment, has increased 28% over the last four years.
“Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a press release. “With our evidence-based strategy, HHS is working to support local communities in fighting back against substance abuse, and our united efforts are yielding results. Together, we can end our country’s opioid crisis and lay a foundation for a healthier country where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.”
In total, 80 rural agencies received awards of $1 million each to implement a set of prevention, treatment and recovery activities.
Utah State University Extension was also awarded a $1 million grant for the Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative. Its grant will fund an integrated opioid response effort that bridges prevention, treatment and recovery in Tooele County, with additional tribal outreach in the Uintah Basin area.