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SAMHSA Is Welcoming Applications for Harm Reduction Studies

February 15, 2022 08:00 am ET
SAMHSA Is Welcoming Applications for Harm Reduction Studies

Drug addiction rates have the potential to plummet in the future. However, this remains dependent on the federal government’s $30 million harm reduction initiative moving forward as planned.

An end-of-year announcement stipulated that a $30 million fund will be designated specifically for harm reduction programs to help combat drug addiction. Currently, America is dealing with a record-high rate of fatal drug overdoses almost 100,000 occurred in 2020. Fortunately, programs that provide naloxone kit distribution, resource connections, and needle exchanges can expect to receive plenty of financial support.

Application Process for New SAMHSA Grant Program Is Open

Program organizers who are interested in applying for involvement in a grant will be pleased to hear that the application process is now open. The process officially launched following an announcement from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) on December 8.

“This funding allows organizations to expand their community-based overdose prevention programs in a variety of ways, including distributing overdose-reversal medications and fentanyl test strips, providing overdose education and counseling, and managing or expanding syringe services programs, which help control the spread of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C,” reads the announcement.

Program funding for the new harm reduction initiative comes courtesy of the American Rescue Plan. This spending bill, which is worth $1.9 trillion, allocated $4 billion for mental health assistance and drug addiction.

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The Importance of Harm Reduction to Combat Addiction

The main strategies incorporated into a drug harm reduction initiativesuch as consulting with drug users in their chosen consumption spaces, dealing with conditions of use, and improving safety for usersare essential for improving social justice and mitigating the risks associated with drug use.

According to the National Harm Reduction Coalition, a plan of this kind should accomplish the following:

  1. Plan organizers must be aware of the complexities surrounding substance use, the behavior(s) it entails, and the level of safety/risk profile associated with different types of drug use;
  2. Accept the fact that legal and illegal drug consumption is a permanent issue across the globe and focus on minimizing the damaging effects of drugs (as opposed to condemning drug use completely);
  3. Discuss the importance of successful interventions clarified through the use of specific criteria, such as individual and community quality of life;
  4. Provide drug users and people who have a history of drug use with an opinion on the types of programs and policies that they feel would suit them best;
  5. Urge for the non-judgmental provision of essential harm reduction services and resources required by drug users;
  6. Identify people who use drugs (PWUD) as the most influential in terms of minimizing harms, as well as prompt the PWUD to divulge information to and support one another using methods that are in line with their conditions of drug consumption.
  7. Appreciate the truth surrounding class, racism, trauma, poverty, social isolation, sex-related discrimination, and various other social disparities that negatively impact a person’s susceptibility to and ability to deal with drug-related harm.
  8. Highlight the true dangers of illicit drug use.

How to Apply for the Drug Harm Reduction Plan 

Program organizers that work in harm reduction can now apply to receive a grant if they fall into one of four categories. Currently, according to the announcement, harm reduction program applications are being welcomed for projects that encapsulate the following:

“(1) developing and testing new harm reduction strategies; (2) examining how to effectively implement new and existing harm reduction strategies; (3) expanding the settings and delivery models through which harm reduction strategies are deployed; and (4) examining the impact of new harm reduction policies implemented at state and local levels.”

It was also revealed that, in an effort to curb drug-related overdoses, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is making harm reduction policy a priority. For more information about the Fed’s drug harm reduction program, contact the SAMHSA directly.

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