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Tennessee Gets Federal Funding to Fight Opioid Overdoses

Tennessee is set to receive federal funding that can be used to improve opioid prescription tracking databases and enhance community awareness programs.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is distributing $53 million in funding for various programs that bolster opioid overdose awareness and addiction treatment services to 44 states, Washington, D.C., and four tribes.

Tennessee will get funding from two buckets of allocations. The awards were competitive and states had to apply for funding.

The funding from the strategic prevention framework state incentive grant can be used for programs to raise awareness of prescription misuse and the hazards of sharing medications. Twenty-one states and four tribes will receive money from a pool of $9 million.

Tennessee also will receive money to continue work on its initiatives tracking overdose death rates and providers' prescribing habits through enhancements to its prescription drug monitoring program. There are 14 states splitting up to $11.5 million in funding.

Federal officials want to allocate more funds to bolstering state programs, but congressional gridlock has left President Barack Obama's request for an additional $1.1 billion unfunded. The rate of opioid overdose deaths and broad misuse in Tennessee has been dubbed an epidemic by state officials.

U.S. Secretary of Health Sylvia Burwell said in a press call Tuesday it is critical that Congress pass more funding so states can increase access to overdose and addiction treatments in addition to expanding public awareness campaigns.

Federal and state health officials and policymakers want to recast addiction as a disease rather than a criminal activity to encourage more people to seek treatment.

“We will continue to advocate,” Burwell said. “Families are giving it everything they have. They are fighting an illness as well as a stigma."

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