07.25.18

RI Receives Nearly $3.9 Million Federal Grant to Aid in Opioid Epidemic Recovery

Federal funding will provide reemployment services to individuals affected by opioid use & addiction

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced that $3,894,875 in National Health Emergency (NHE) Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant funding is heading to Rhode Island to help curb the threat of opioid addiction and overdose.  Rhode Island is one of six states set to receive a share of $22 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor to provide reemployment services for individuals impacted by the health and economic effects of widespread opioid use, addiction, and overdose.

This grant is in addition to $12.5 million in federal funding that Reed, Whitehouse, Langevin, and Cicilline helped secure earlier this year to aid Rhode Island’s fight against opioid addiction.

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, which Reed and Whitehouse helped pass in the Senate, NHE Demonstration Grants provide funding to states to address the economic and workforce impacts associated with the opioid health crisis. 

Earlier this year, all four members of the delegation wrote a joint letter in support of Rhode Island’s application for the grant funding, noting that: “In 2016, 336 Rhode Islanders lost their lives as the result of an overdose, placing Rhode Island among the top ten states nationally for overdose deaths per capita.  The state and a coalition of partners have mobilized to act on a comprehensive overdose prevention and intervention strategy that works to support individuals and families facing an opioid use disorder.”

The letter elaborated on how the funding would support the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training’s Recovery Through Opportunity (RTO) proposal, which recognizes that employment is one of the best predictors of whether someone stays in long-term recovery, and that supporting people in recovery through the challenges of entering or re-entering the workforce is one of the best ways to prevent overdose deaths. 

“This federal funding is much needed in Rhode Island and addresses a critical piece of the puzzle on the road to recovery from opioid addiction: self-reliance and dignified, sustainable employment,” said Senator Reed, who, as a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, helped boost funding for states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic like Rhode Island.  “We worked hard to ensure that anti-opioid funding is directed to where it is most needed.  This federal grant will enhance the state’s efforts to combat opioid addiction and help people on the road to recovery find a job, stay employed, and support their families.”

“In working with Rhode Islanders on the front lines of the opioid crisis, I’ve seen how addiction can intrude on every part of a person’s life, including their job,” said Senator Whitehouse, who co-authored the landmark bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), sweeping legislation that guides the federal response to the opioid epidemic.  “This award will help Rhode Islanders walking the noble path of recovery to get back to work and rebuild their lives.  I’m proud to fight alongside members of the delegation to support Rhode Island’s battle against the opioid epidemic.”

“Helping our communities respond to the opioid crisis requires a comprehensive approach, and assisting Rhode Islanders looking to regain their livelihoods is a key part of the effort,” said Congressman Langevin.  "Rhode Island is among the states hardest hit by opioid overdoses and I will keep fighting for the resources necessary to tackle the epidemic head-on.”

“This is the most significant public health crisis we’ve faced in decades. Opioid addiction knows no boundaries – it impacts folks of all different races, ages, and backgrounds. We need to do everything we can to end this epidemic,” said Congressman Cicilline, who serves on the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. “I’m pleased that we’re bringing this critical funding back to Rhode Island. This is exactly how every level of government – federal, state, and local – needs to work together to help those who are struggling with opioid addiction.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Rhode Island had the ninth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the nation in 2016.