WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS), today announced the final passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Senator Shelby, through his CJS Subcommittee, secured $276.5 million to combat the opioid abuse epidemic across the nation.
“This spending bill takes critical steps to fight America’s growing opioid epidemic,” said Senator Shelby. “I am pleased that our law enforcement and criminal justice system will now be provided with the funding needed to increase efforts to halt this widespread crisis. This is a real problem throughout our nation, and with this bill, we are making significant strides to increase prevention and combat opioid abuse.”
- Drug Enforcement Administration – provides $12.5 million for four new heroin enforcement teams.
- Department of Justice State and Local Grants – provides $147 million for existing grant programs – such as Drug Courts and Prescription Drug Monitoring programs – and newly approved initiatives. This funding fully supports programs authorized by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, and it will assist state and local law enforcement agencies in fighting drug trafficking in communities.
- Bureau of Prisons – provides at least $117 million for its Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program, which assists in treatment for individuals involved in the criminal justice system.
The growing epidemic regarding the misuse, abuse, and addiction to certain prescription pain medications and other types of opioids in the United States, such as heroin, remains a concern for communities across the country. The prescription of opioid painkillers has been the driving force behind increased opioid usage and subsequent overdose related deaths. In 2015, opioid deaths across the country rose to over 33,000, surpassing automobile accidents as the leading cause of injury-related deaths in America.
Since 2011, Alabama’s opioid abuse rate has dramatically grown and increased by an average of 20 percent from 2013 to 2014. In 2015, 736 Alabamians died from an opioid-related drug overdose.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has joined Congress in taking steps to mitigate the crisis. In December of 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law, providing $1 billion in state grants to help fight the opioid epidemic. On April 19, 2017, HHS Secretary Price announced that $485 million will be awarded to states for additional grants, representing the first round of funding under the Cures bill. Alabama is expected to receive $7,967,873 of that funding.