DOJ Grant Programs Provide Millions To Curb Substance Abuse

Jerry Ashworth
October 9, 2018 at 13:15:12 ET
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We were full aware on Oct. 1 that we were currently in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and National Hispanic Heritage Month, but we didn’t realize that October was also National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. As such, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is awarding about $320 million in federal fiscal year 2018 funding under several different grant programs to combat the nation’s opioid crisis.

In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, up from the 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of these deaths can be attributed to opioids, including illicit fentanyl and its analogues.

To address this concern, DOJ has assigned more than 300 federal prosecutors to U.S. Attorneys’ offices and hired more than 400 Drug Enforcement Administration task force officers, announced the formation of Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge, a new program to reduce the supply of deadly synthetic opioids in high impact areas, and created a new data analytics program called the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit to assist 12 prosecutors sent to drug “hot spot districts.” The nearly $320 million awarded by the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs aims to encourage efforts to tackle illegal drug usage. The following is a breakdown of the grant funding:

  • Innovative Prosecution Solutions for Combating Violent Crime and Opioid Abuse ($2.8 Million)
    • Help prosecutors develop strategies to address violent crime caused by illegal opioid distribution and abuse.
  • Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Site-based Program ($162 Million)
    • Help jurisdictions plan and implement programs aimed at reducing opioid abuse and mitigating its impact on crime victims, including training and technical assistance.
  • Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program ($5.9 Million)
    • Address the treatment needs of people using opioids under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program.
  • Helping Children and Youth Impacted by Opioids ($46.6 Million)
    • Help children and youth impacted by the opioid crisis, including training and technical assistance.
  • Drug Courts ($81.2 Million)
    • Assist adult, juvenile and family drug courts and veterans treatment courts, including training and technical assistance.
  • Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grant Program ($17 Million)
    • Address the dramatic increase in deaths and the backlogs of seized drugs as a result of the opioid crisis.
  • Opioid-Related Research for Criminal Justice Purposes ($4.1 Million)
    • Development of new tools to enforce the law, ensure public safety, prevent and control crime, and ensure fair and impartial administration of justice.

This is a huge effort, and we hope that it achieves its desired results. The number of overdose deaths in 2017 rose by 8,000, or 11 percent, over the previous year. We would hope that through such coordinated nationwide grant programs and other drug prevention tactics, the number of annual overdose deaths would decrease for 2018 and going forward.