Colorado receives $41.6 million over two years to address opioid crisis

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DENVER (Aug. 31, 2020) - The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) will receive $41.6 million over the next two years from the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant, a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) grant that provides states funding to address the opioid crisis. OBH will receive $20.8 million per year beginning Sept. 30, 2020.

Including the new funds, SAMHSA has awarded CDHS $95.3 million in opioid-related funding since May 2017, with the main goal of increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), a highly effective treatment for opioid use disorder that pairs therapy with anti-craving medications. This grant cycle, the CDHS can use the SOR funds to address addiction to stimulants, such as methamphetamine and cocaine, in addition to opioids.

"We know access to affordable treatment in their community gives Coloradans the best chance for recovery, particularly during these challenging times," said Robert Werthwein, director of OBH. "We are thrilled to receive more funding and build on our partnerships with hospitals, jails, substance use treatment providers and advocacy organizations that are helping us ramp up services across the state."

The announcement comes as more Coloradans seek substance use disorder treatment, according to the latest OBH Drug Trends Report. Admissions to OBH-licensed treatment programs for prescription opioids, methamphetamine and heroin use are up 16%, 31% and 52% percent respectively since 2015. Overdose deaths - particularly from fentanyl, a synthetic opioid - are also on the rise, according to 2019 data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

With the new funding, the state plans to:

  • Serve hundreds more under- and uninsured Coloradans on six mobile health units that provide MAT and other services, including flu shots and referrals to community resources, in rural and frontier communities,
  • Purchase and distribute 24,000 kits of the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, which has already prevented more than 2,000 overdoses through SOR grant funding,
  • Increase the number of recovery residences and cover the first month of rent for hundreds of Coloradans at these residences,
  • Support residential treatment for more than 400 Coloradans struggling with stimulant or opioid use disorders,
  • Continue culturally responsive school-based prevention programs,
  • Expand the Lift the Label anti-stigma campaign and the Colorado Crisis Services campaign that connects Coloradans to substance use treatment,
  • Support those in recovery and their loved ones through the Recovery Cards Project, which has distributed more than 40,000 free greeting cards since its launch a year ago,
  • Partner with recovery community organizations to provide peer-delivered recovery support services to people in recovery, and
  • Collaborate with the Colorado Hospital Association and CU Practice Innovation Center to develop and roll out best practices to manage and treat pain without the use of opioids and train hospitals and healthcare practices to prescribe MAT in rural communities.

For more information on Colorado\'s SOR grant, visit our website.

Media contact:
Madlynn Ruble, Deputy Director of Communications