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Montana Receives $3.9 Million Toward Opioid, Addiction Treatment

Montana received almost $4 million in federal funds for addiction recovery and treatment this week.
Montana received almost $4 million in federal funds for addiction recovery and treatment this week.

  Montana received almost $4 million in federal funds for addiction recovery and treatment this week.

The United States is seeing a rise in opioid addiction numbers.

Opioid-related overdoses across 45 states increased 30 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Montana Healthcare Foundation CEO Aaron Wernham said numbers also show overdose rates are lower in Montana than in other states, but that’s not the complete picture.

“We hear from practices around the state that they’re seeing lots of patients who are struggling with addiction, not just to opioids, but also to alcohol, and methamphetamine appears to be on the rise again,” he said.

Not all of the federal funds in this case are geared toward the opioid epidemic.

The Health Resources and Services Administration granted Montana about $1 million for rural programs and approximately $900,000 in training for professionals on the treatment side.

It also directed roughly $2 million toward Montana’s substance abuse disorder and mental health services, including but not limited to opioid addiction treatment.

Wernham with the Healthcare Foundation said his organization is most excited about the funds going to integrated behavioral health. That means primary care and mental health professionals working together to help meet a person’s mental, physical and situational needs from underlying mental health conditions to transportation

“All of those kinds of social factors that can make it harder to heal, all in one place,” he said. “So, this emphasis on integrated team-based care in these grants I think is very important and new.”

Wernham said in 2015 Montana Healthcare Foundation found around 90 percent of people who needed addiction treatment were not receiving it.

He said over the last few years, Montana has nearly doubled the number of addiction treatment providers and nearly quadrupled the number of clinicians approved to subscribe medication-assisted treatment for opioids.

Wernham said that’s largely due to federal and state focus and funding. He also said medicaid expansion is responsible for well over half of the funding for treatment in the state.

Copyright 2019 Yellowstone Public Radio

Kayla Desroches reports for Yellowstone Public Radio in Billings. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, and stayed in the city for college, where she hosted a radio show that featured serialized dramas like the Shadow and Suspense. In her pathway to full employment, she interned at WNYC in New York City and KTOO in Juneau, Alaska. She then spent a few years on the island of Kodiak, Alaska, where she transitioned from reporter to news director before moving to Montana.
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