Millions of dollars headed to Alabama to fight opioid crisis

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently announced $1.8 billion in funding to states to fight the opioid crisis.

Alabama is expected to receive nearly $17.5 million for their efforts. The state will receive $13.7 million under the State Opioid Response program and the Centers for Disease Control will give $3.7 million to the Alabama Department of Public Health, according to The News Courier.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths increased by 11.1 percent in Alabama between 2016 and 2017, going from 16.2 deaths per 100,000 to 18 per 100,000. In 2017, the majority of drug overdose deaths involved an opioids.

To understand the opioid crisis in Alabama, we spoke with someone who lived it firsthand.

Ebony Vaughn spent the last 10 years of her life getting high from a number of different drugs, such as Percocet, crack, alcohol and Xanax. Vaughn said there’s a number of reasons why someone would turn to substances.

“I believe self-medication, sometimes you feel like you’re trying to make yourself feel better or that high makes you believe that you’re feeling better,” Vaughn said.

She said one day, she woke up and realized she didn’t want to live that way because she saw what the drugs were doing to her friends.

“Overdoses is an all-of-a-sudden thing, you’re use to being around your friends that you get high with, you don’t realize that it could be over that instantly,” Vaughn said.

She’s now been sober for 88 days with help from the people at Council on Substance Abuse (COSA), the state affiliate of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.

Ricky Wilson, program manager at COSA, said that Alabama has one of the highest opioid prescription rates in the country, but did not have the highest death rate from the drug.

“I know in this area, we need more housing we also need more in patient treatment centers in this area, that is one of our biggest barriers that we are facing,” Wilson said.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s office said the money for the opioid epidemic will go to the Alabama Department of Mental Health.

COSA is having a number of events this month to mark national recovery month.

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