CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Recently, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced over $43 million through the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant program from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Since the creation of the SOR grant program in 2018, this is the fourth time these awards have been announced for West Virginia, bringing the total amount to over $100 million for the state.

This amount would have been considerably less without language authored by Senator Capito that would ensure states most impacted by the opioid crisis would receive more funding for their efforts. Specifically, Senator Capito raised this issue in 2017 during the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Budget Request hearing when initial discussions began on how to assist the hardest-hit states. Prior to this change, funds were distributed by population, which often puts West Virginia at a disadvantage for greatly needed resources. Senator Capito’s language sets aside 15 percent for states with the highest mortality rates from opioid use. This 15 percent set aside amount for West Virginia led to over $30 million additional funds for West Virginia in this most recent funding round. Without this language, West Virginia would have only received $11 million as part of the state formula.

“West Virginia’s fight against the opioid epidemic has vigorously advanced due to the SOR grant program by educating the public along with our first responders, opening the discussion around SUD and MAT, and most importantly, saved countless lives,” Senator Capito said. “As we continue to learn how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our state’s efforts against opioids, the combination of these resources and this focus will be as important as ever going forward. Through my work on the Appropriations Committee, I’ve worked hard to make sure our state has the resources necessary to combat this crisis, including creating new solutions like the measure I authored to prioritize funds for states hardest hit by the crisis. I will continue to fight to make sure our state has what it needs to effectively battle this crisis.”

West Virginia has used SOR grants for several purposes, including to: 

  • Improve coordination across prevention and treatment activities.
  • Support the statewide behavioral health infrastructure such as through county coalitions.
  • Increase awareness that addiction is a disease and reduce the stigma around medication assisted treatment (MAT) through a statewide media campaign.
  • Sponsor treatment for individuals without insurance or insurance that does not cover substance use disorder (SUD).
  • Expand access to MAT at all regional jails.
  • Train over 1,000 professionals on effective MAT practices especially on pregnant and postpartum women, opioid overdose survivors, and hospital emergency departments.
  • Broaden the curriculum at the three medical schools in the state.
  • Establish Quick Response Teams (QRT).
  • Provide after-hours transportation and expanded route access to cover more rural areas through the West Virginia Public Transit Authority to allow individuals to access treatment services.

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