Heroin seized by the Centralia Police Department in 2014 is shown in this Chronicle file photo.

Department of Justice Awards $2.5 Million to Washington for Opioid Epidemic

By The Chronicle

The U.S. Department of Justice will spend $58.8 million nationwide to combat the opioid abuse epidemic and strengthen drug court programs, including $2.5 million for Washington state, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes for the Western District of Washington. 

“The grants to Washington state will pay for stronger prescription drug monitoring programs to curb opioid abuse, and will also fund more treatment and drug court options for those struggling with addiction,” Hayes said in a statement. “With nearly one million dollars going to the Department of Health for prescription monitoring, health care providers and law enforcement authorities will be better equipped to identify and stop those who are diverting pills to the black market and thereby feeding the opioid epidemic.”

In 2016, nearly 60,000 Americans died due to drug overdoses, an increase from 52,000 overdose deaths the previous year, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Washington state’s death rate for 2015 for opiates was 5.5 deaths per 100,000 people, double that of 1999. 

“Today, we are facing the deadliest drug crisis in American History,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement. “These trends are shocking and the numbers tell us a lot — but they aren’t just numbers. They represent moms and dads, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. And make no mistake, combatting this poison is a top priority for President Trump and his administration, and you can be sure that we are taking action to address it.”

Specific grants in Washington state include $853,654 to the state Department of Health for prescription drug monitoring programs, $300,000 to Mason County for public education, $399,785 to Grays Harbor County Drug Court, $397,566 to the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Drug Court, $400,000 for the Clark County Drug Court and $179,494 to the Department of Social and Health Services for drug treatment programs in jails, prisons and community corrections programs. 

Specific sites and funds awarded can be found online at: go.usa.gov/xRJDf.