Federal health officials are preparing to allocate nearly $1 billion to support states in their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) said it is accepting applications from states and territories to secure a portion of an allotted $930 million in state opioid response grants for opioid prevention and treatment initiatives.

The money is part of the more than $2 billion in funding meant to address the opioid epidemic over the next two years.

SAMHSA will award up to 59 grants. States and the District of Columbia can receive a minimum of $4 million. Fifteen percent will go to 10 states that have suffered the most drug overdose deaths or have the highest proportion of residents who have substance use disorder but don't receive treatment.

Those states with the highest rates of opioid-related deaths are West Virginia (52 per 100,000), Ohio (39.1 per 100,000), New Hampshire (39.0 per 100,000), Pennsylvania (37.9 per 100,000) and Kentucky (33.5 per 100,000)

States will receive grants for projects lasting up to two years that focus on providing data that identify gaps in access to substance use disorder treatment and utilize evidence-based strategies to best address those gaps. Grantees will also be required to deliver evidence-based treatment interventions that include medication assisted treatments and psychosocial interventions. They will have to report their progress toward increasing access and reducing overdose deaths.

"The state opioid response grants were designed to meet the specific needs of communities within each state and territory," Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz said in a statement. "The grants will expand capacity to provide much needed evidence-based care to people who haven't yet been reached."

According to SAMHSA’s blog, 150 Americans die every day from opioid overdose.

"Whether a person deliberately misuses a prescription opioid or uses an illicit drug, such as heroin, these deaths are all preventable. It’s up to us — emergency medical personnel, healthcare professionals, and community members who witness and respond to overdoses to learn what we can do to prevent opioid misuse."

Since 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued more than $1 billion in grants to support access to opioid-related treatment, prevention and recovery.

As part of HHS’ prevention efforts, SAMHSA has revised its Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit for 2018, which provides a comprehensive outline for individuals and community members to understand the scope of the opioid overdose problem in the United States and how to address it.

"This large new grant program reflects President Trump's deep commitment to fighting the opioid crisis, and will provide extra support for the hardest-hit states," HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. "It demonstrates the emphasis we place on expanding access to treament that works, especially medication-assisted treatment with appropriate social supports."

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also has announced the availability of $350 million in new funding to expand access to substance use disorder and mental health services at community health centers across the nation. These funds will support health centers in implementing and advancing evidence-based strategies, including expanded medication-assisted treatment (MAT) services, and are expected to be awarded in September of this year by HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

"Local communities have played a vital role in combating our country’s opioid crisis," said Azar. "The contributions of HRSA-funded health centers in particular have been invaluable. These new grants, provided by the government funding bill President Trump signed earlier this year, will allow centers to expand their important work providing high quality substance abuse and mental health services."

The Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services funding opportunity supports HHS’ Five-Point Opioid Strategy.

Under President Trump, in April 2017, HHS unveiled a new five-point opioid strategy, prioritizing efforts in five areas: 1) improving access to prevention, treatment and recovery support services, including medication-assisted treatment; 2) promoting the targeted availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs; 3) strengthening public health data reporting and collection; 4) supporting cutting-edge research on addiction and pain and 5) advancing the practice of pain management.

Primary care settings, like the community health centers supported by HRSA’s Health Center Program, have increasingly become a gateway to integrated care for individuals with substance use disorder (SUD) and primary care needs.

HRSA support enables community health centers to enhance access to primary care-based SUD services, including MAT services, as well as pain management and other prevention services. In 2017 alone, nearly 65,000 health center patients received MAT.

HRSA’s Health Center Program provides grant funding to community-based health centers in underserved areas. Nearly 1,400 community health centers operate more than 11,000 sites, providing care to nearly 26 million people across the nation, in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Pacific Basin.

For more information on how to apply for the SAMHSA grants, see https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/grant-announcements/ti-18-015.