PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo unveiled today a detailed action plan aimed at reducing the number of overdose deaths in Rhode Island over the next three years. She also urged the General Assembly to pass the $4 million funding proposal in her FY 2017 budget which expands access to peer recovery and supports medication-assisted treatment at the Department of Corrections.
"We have a single focus in our work to address the overdose crisis: save lives," Raimondo said. "We can't work fast enough across the state to help those most directly affected by this crisis. As a parent, my heart breaks for the hundreds of Rhode Island families who have lost loved ones to addiction and overdose. We must continue to demand action and make swift change to promote prevention, treatment and recovery, and end the stigma of addiction."
As many as 250 Rhode Islanders died from overdose in 2015. Illicit drug overdose deaths have increased 250 percent since 2011 and overdose deaths involving fentanyl have grown 15-fold since 2012. In fact, half of all overdoses in the state last year were fentanyl-related. The action plan draws on a strategic vision outlined last winter by the Governor's Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force and describes specific policies and metrics designed to promote prevention, rescue, treatment and recovery.
"Those of us who have experienced the crisis firsthand understand that overdose and addiction do not discriminate," Deborah Parente, a Cranston resident who lost a son to overdose last year, said. "It is heartening to see Governor Raimondo make recovery such a high priority. It is time to end the stigma of addiction in Rhode Island."
"CVS Health is dedicated to helping the communities we serve address and prevent opioid abuse through community education, drug abuse prevention and proper disposal of unused medication," Helena Foulkes, Executive Vice President of CVS Health and President of CVS Pharmacy, said. "Combating this epidemic requires the dedication of all stakeholders, and we are proud of the leadership demonstrated in our home state by Governor Raimondo in putting forward a comprehensive plan to address this public health issue and save lives."
The action plan offers detailed policy reforms to prevent addiction, support treatment and promote recovery, including (among others):
• Develop, implement and enforce regulations that limit most opioid dosing to a contained period of time, with exceptions for high-need patients;
• Develop clinical guidelines for co-prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines;
• Aggressive, targeted sanctions to ensure universal enrollment in the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
• Create a centralized and sustainable fund to maintain an adequate supply of naloxone, which can reverse the effects of a drug overdose;
• Open Rhode Island's first Center of Excellence before the end of 2016;
• Expand medication-assisted treatment to the Department of Corrections;
• Double the number of certified peer recovery specialists by March 2017; and
• Create a model discharge and recovery plan to promote recovery services for patients with substance use disorder.
"For every overdose death, there are approximately 100 individuals and families suffering with this devastating disease of opioid addiction," Maria Montanaro, Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals and a co-chair of the Governor's Task Force, said. "To accomplish our mission of saving lives we need policy changes, stigma reduction and funding. The Governor has included those key components in this plan. Bringing together our colleagues in government, law enforcement, the medical community and our many partners, we will reduce overdose deaths and stand up to this crisis."
"This public health crisis is devastating families and communities throughout Rhode Island. The Action Plan we have developed under the leadership of Governor Raimondo is a swift, firm response that will save lives," Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of Health and a co-chair of the Governor's Task Force, said. "Through the Action Plan, we will be dispatching treatment, rescue, and recovery resources to people at highest risk for overdosing, and rolling out a clear, coordinated plan to prevent people from developing substance use disorders to begin with."
To address the growing proportion of overdose deaths linked to illicit drug use, the Department of Health is working with the Fusion Center and participating in the multi-state Heroin Response Strategy, which develops and strengthens partnerships between public health and public safety agencies across state lines.
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