With more than 40 deaths a year, agency gets grant to fight opioid addictions

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RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ) – A regional agency has received $1 million during the next three years to expand opioid addiction programs and to implement promising new treatment options.

Kentucky River Foothills Development Council, Inc. has been awarded a Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Implementation grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to sustain its fight against opioid disorders in Madison County.

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Madison County has averaged more than 40 overdose deaths a year and sometimes has had as many as three in a day.

The agency will receive $1 million during a three-year period to implement a set of evidence-based interventions and promising practices that align with HRSA’s Five-Point Strategy to Combat the Opioid Crisis.

The grant is part of $89 million awarded 89 agencies nationwide. Six of the awards were made to Kentucky organizations.

Last year KRFDC was awarded a one-year $200,000 planning grant from HRSA to strengthen and expand substance use disorder (SUD) response, including opioid use disorder (OUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery services in rural areas through a RCORP-Planning project.

KRFDC was one of eight Kentucky organizations to receive this initial funding.

As a result of the planning grant KRFDC developed MORE — Madison County Opioid Response and Engagement — a consortium of organizations committed to working collectively to drive change in how our community responds to this epidemic.

The MORE Consortium included the Dry Dock, Fahe, the Madison County Health Department, the Richmond Chamber of Commerce and White House Clinics.

As part of the new grant, the Madison County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy joined the coalition. The MORE consortium is supported by a larger network of community organizations and individuals committed to addressing Madison County’s opioid epidemic.

MORE initially worked to develop plans to ensure that services provided to the target population were coordinated in a county-wide unified manner; that stigma was reduced through a Hometown Recovery media campaign; and that consortium and network members were introduced to resources of which they were not previously aware.

This new RCORP-Implementation project will strengthen and expand efforts started during the planning grant. It will also allow MORE – now the Madison Opioid Response and Empowerment Consortium – to work toward long-term solutions to the community’s crisis.

The overall goal is to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with opioid overdoses in high-risk rural communities through the work of multi-sector consortiums.

Through this grant, KRFDC hopes to reduce the occurrence of OUD/SUD among new and at-risk users, as well as fatal opioid-related overdoses; expand treatment options, including access to medication- assisted treatment (MAT); and increase other recovery and treatment options that help people start and stay in recovery.

These funds are intended to expand resource availability will not duplicate any existing efforts in Madison County.

“This three year project will enable the MORE (Madison Opioid Response and Empowerment) Consortium to strengthen substance use prevention, treatment and recovery services in Madison County,” said Brian Mullins, KRFDC Executive Director.  “These additional services are greatly needed to intervene in the opioid epidemic that has broken the hearts of many families in our community with the worst cases ending in the overdose deaths of more than 40 Madison Countians annually for the last several years. KRFDC and the MORE Consortium are grateful for Senator McConnell’s ongoing support of our grant application of which he has championed throughout its development.”

Covid-19 has powered a rise in drug relapses and overdoses in Madison County with some 24-hour periods having as many as three overdose deaths.

It is KRFDC’s goal is to continue increasing awareness and reducing the stigma of substance use disorder.

“By having open conversations, we have a better chance to help people who are really struggling,” said Mullins.  “We want people to know that there are resources in Madison County and that there’s help for them.”