The federal government is seeking to make the use of illicit drugs safer through a new grant program open to community organizations seeking to combat drug addiction and overdoses.
Under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the $30 million in Harm Reduction Program Grants will be provided to “community-based overdose prevention programs, syringe services programs, and other harm reduction services.”
According to the government’s Notice of Funding Opportunity, the “funding will be used to enhance overdose and other types of prevention activities to help control the spread of infectious diseases and the consequences of such diseases for individuals with, or at risk of developing substance use disorders (SUD), support distribution of FDA-approved overdose reversal medication to individuals at risk of overdose, build connections for individuals at risk for, or with, a SUD to overdose education, counseling, and health education, refer individuals to treatment for infectious diseases, such as HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and viral hepatitis, and encourage such individuals to take steps to reduce the negative personal and public health impacts of substance use or misuse.”
The administration believes the grants will help harm reduction and recovery efforts.
With these goals in mind, organizations that receive a grant can use the money to buy FDA-approved overdose reversal medication, safe-sex kits that include condoms and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) resources for those at risk for HIV, and safe smoking kits and supplies.
Safe smoking kits and supplies “will provide pipes for users to smoke crack cocaine, crystal methamphetamine” and other illicit substances, a Department of Health and Human Services told The Washington Free Beacon.
The outlet notes that “it is against federal law to distribute or sell drug paraphernalia unless authorized by the government.”
Organizations that receive funding are required to submit a behavioral health disparity impact statement within two months.
“Behavioral health equity refers to the right to access quality health care for all populations regardless of the individual’s race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or geographical location,” DHHS said.
The department notes the requirement is part of compliance with President Joe Biden’s executive order, titled “Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government.”
The notification specifically asks recipients to identify the number of “under-resourced” people that will benefit from the program, including “racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender minority groups” that are “vulnerable to behavioral health disparities.”
Recipients can spend 20% of the funding on administrative costs, data collection, and performance assessment. The remaining 80% of the funding must be used for “underserved communities that are greatly impacted by” substance use disorders.
The $30 million will be distributed through 25 grants of $400,000.
Applications close on Feb. 7 and the program will begin in May.