Earth & Conservation

U.S. Commits $94 Million to Opioid Treatment Programs

The 'epidemic' of prescription drug and heroin use is attacked nationwide and in Puerto Rico.

<p>Photo: Courtesy of U.S. Marine Corps</p>

The U.S. government announced major funding for drug treatment programs this week, specifically focusing on opioid use and addiction in underserved communities.

A total of $94 million will go to 271 health centers across 45 states, as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Addiction to opioids, which include prescription painkillers and heroin, has received more national attention lately as a widespread public health issue.

The Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement that in 2013, 4.5 million people misused prescription pain medication and 289.000 were heroin users. From 1999 to 2013, the number of unintentional deaths related to prescription pain medications quadrupled. Heroin-related deaths went up 39% between 2012 and 2013 alone.

The funding will increase the number of people screened for opioid abuse and offer expanded treatment programs. The HHS hopes it will serve 124,000 people in total.

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