Bay Ridge

Congress deal provides $3.6 billion for drug prevention

May 4, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The funding agreement Congress is expected to approve would provide monies for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to give grants to opioid abuse prevention programs. Eagle file photo by Paula Katinas

Donovan says feds will give grants for opioid treatment

When Congress reached a funding agreement to avoid a government shutdown, the fact that the deal included funding for Planned Parenthood and did not contain monies for President Donald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-Mexico border generated most of the headlines. But buried within the agreement was a bit of good news for Americans on the front lines of the battle against the opioid epidemic, according to U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan.

It didn’t garner much publicity, but the funding agreement doubles down on the federal government’s fight against opioid addiction, said Donovan (R-C-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island).

The budget provides at $3.6 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is $150 million more than last year’s allocation.

SAMHSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that administers grants aimed at reducing substance abuse and mental illness.

“Fighting the opioid epidemic is a cornerstone of my time in Congress, and a project that will likely take years. The federal government can’t win the battle from Washington, but we can provide the tools and resources necessary for the local experts in the trenches. That’s what we’ve done here, and it’s the right strategy,” said Donovan, the former Staten Island district attorney. 

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services began distributing $485 million in grants under the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis program.  The new grants were created in the 21st Century Cures Act, legislation that Donovan co-sponsored last year.

Congress allocates grant funding to SAMHSA, which in turn administers the programs. The funding then goes to states and to private nonprofit groups through a grant application process.

On another front in the drug war, Donovan recently re-introduced legislation called the Comprehensive Fentanyl Control Act, which would increase criminal penalties for fentanyl traffickers.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is 50 times more powerful than heroin and is responsible for more than half of overdose deaths in New York City, Donovan said.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the effects of fentanyl resemble the effects of heroin. The effects can include euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, confusion, constipation and sedation.

When prescribed by a doctor, fentanyl is usually given by injection, a transdermal patch or in the form of lozenges. 

But drug dealers have also increasingly bypassed physicians in favor of manufacturing it in clandestine labs, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This type of fentanyl can be sold on the street as a powder, spiked on blotter paper, or as tablets.

The street names for fentanyl include Apache, China Girl, China White, Dance Fever, Friend, Goodfella, Jackpot, Murder 8, TNT and Tango and Cash.

For more information the dangers of fentanyl, visit drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/fentanyl.