PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Members of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation have secured a major increase in federal funds to help battle the opioid epidemic.
The state is set to receive an additional $10 million to help battle opioid addiction and abuse.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed and Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin joined health officials Tuesday to call for the funds to be quickly deployed to programs that can help save lives and aid in the recovery process.
“This is a disease, it should be viewed as you need help, you go and seek treatment,” Langevin said. “If you’re sick, you go to the doctor. If you break a leg, you go and get treated. The same if you have a mental health related issue. You have a substance abuse related issue, you should feel comfortable coming forward and seeking treatment.”
The Rhode Island Department of Health says 323 Rhode Islanders died of accidental drug overdoses last year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island had the ninth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the nation in 2016.
“Tackling the opioid epidemic requires coordination and commitment at the federal, state, and local level,” Reed said. “I am working hard in the Senate to provide reinforcements in the battle against opioid addiction and we need to get these funds to the front lines where they can have the most impact and help save lives. We secured historic increases in funding, but it is still only a fraction of what is needed to confront the enormity of this challenge.”