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Nebraska Receives Federal Funds to Combat Opioid Misuse
Nebraska Ag Connection - 10/09/2019

Nebraska's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has garnered additional federal funding for opioid prevention and treatment from the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will provide DHHS with $6.5 million that will continue to support Nebraska's opioid prevention and treatment efforts in the Divisions of Behavioral Health and Public Health.

"In a continued attempt to reduce the number of overdose deaths in Nebraska, the Division of Behavioral Health has been fortunate enough to receive funding that will not only aim to prevent future opioid overdose deaths through the distribution of naloxone, but expand our addiction treatment workforce through training," said Sheri Dawson, director of the Division of Behavioral Health. "Addressing the underlying causes of addiction, including stigma, linking individuals to care and educating Nebraskans will make our communities healthier. There is no health without behavioral health."

"In 2017, 183 people died in Nebraska from a drug-involved overdose," said Dr. Gary J. Anthone, director of the Division of Public Health. "Although Nebraska is not seeing the same number of drug overdose deaths as in other parts of the country, it is still an issue that affects Nebraskans every day. This funding supports the Division of Public Health's efforts to address Nebraska issues and to continue our proactive approach with the goal of preventing misuse, overdoses, and deaths."

Present and planned future initiatives with the Divisions of Behavioral Health and Public Health and other partners include:

- Addiction Medicine Fellowship and Addiction Executive Fellowship: In August, Nebraska announced that it was instituting an addiction fellowship program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, as a partnership between Governor Pete Ricketts, Attorney General Doug Peterson, DHHS and UNMC. Nebraska was the first state to utilize opioid grant funds for fellowships. Addiction medicine fellowships are multispecialty training programs that emphasize the management of medical, psychiatric, and social conditions in the comprehensive care of persons with unhealthy substance use, substance use disorders and other addictive disorders. Nebraska is one of only a small group of states that currently have addiction medicine fellowships. As of July 2019, the American College of Academic Addiction Medicine (ACGME) stated that there are just 67 addiction medicine fellowship training programs in the United States.

- Expanded access and distribution of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) services and naloxone: The Division of Behavioral Health is allocating grant funding through the behavioral health regions to help bridge the gap for treatment of opioid use disorder. Efforts will focus on increasing the treatment workforce by educating prescribers on obtaining their Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for MAT. Grant funds also will be allocated for buprenorphine and associated medical costs for those in need. The Division of Behavioral Health is also distributing naloxone to law enforcement and first responders or those who are at risk for an opioid overdose or other community partners who may know someone who is.

- Improving data quality and timeliness: This activity is targeted to increase the quality, timeliness, and use of public health data, allowing better information to be available for resource allocation and prevention work both statewide and locally.

- Enhance the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP): This project will continue to focus on enhancing the PDMP to assist clinical decision making and improving patient safety.

- Linkage to care: This focus is intended to increase connections (including education and referral lines) for individuals to get the care they need through multiple avenues. Including:

o First responders and public safety

o Hospitals and medical providers

o Local health departments

o Other community partners

- Media campaigns: Designed to increase awareness of naloxone (the opioid overdose antidote), resources for those at risk of an overdose or their family/friends, and risk for vulnerable populations and for all Nebraskans.

- Continuation of provider training: This program is designed for medical providers to receive education, awareness, training, and resources in a one-on-one setting from their peers. Topics include the PDMP, the Nebraska Pain Management Document, and naloxone.

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