Justice Department Announced It Put Out $330M to Tackle Growing SUD Disaster

The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that it has put up $330 million in potential grant awards meant to address the deepening addiction crisis in the U.S. through law enforcement initiatives.

Leading into the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. was grappling with an intransigent drug overdose epidemic, largely driven by evergrowing numbers of people dying from overdose via opioids. But for the three years or so before the pandemic, the number of Americans dying from overdose remained more or less at the same level.

The pandemic made the crisis much worse.


For the 12-month period ending March 2020, the onset of the pandemic in the U.S., the total number of overdose deaths stood at 75,800. In the 12-month period ending May 2021, the latest data available, an estimated 100,300 people died by overdose, a 32% increase. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that overdose death figures remained somewhat the same from Fall 2017 until the onset of the pandemic.

“Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation is experiencing a precipitous rise in opioid and stimulant misuse and overdoses,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, said in a news release. “The Justice Department is committed to supporting programs aimed at addressing the substance use crisis that is devastating communities across the nation.”

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the DOJ’s training and grantmaking arm, will award $137 million through its comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program (COSSAP) and $9.7 million for the program’s technical support. COSSAP seeks to reduce the impact of drugs — including through addiction and overdose as well as associated crimes — by supporting comprehensive, collaborative initiatives.


The Berkeley County Day Report Center, in West Virginia, received $900,000 from COSSAP to partner with the Berkeley County Schools System, the Martinsburg Initiative and the Berkeley Recovery Resource Center, according to the release. The entities will provide peer recovery services to students and their family members, strengthen social services where children have been impacted by drug addiction, and provide sustaining funds to Project AWARE, an mental health initiative led by the school system.

Over $61.6 million in grants through the Adult Drug and Veteran Treatment Court Program will be awarded to help states, state courts, local courts and tribal governments implement and enhance the operations of adult drug courts and veteran treatment courts. This Justice Department program will have an additional $16 million in technical assistance funding.

The OJP’s Residential Substance Abuse Treatment for State Prisoners Program and Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program will have about $29.6 million to use within their respective programs. The former helps inmates overcome addiction while the latter helps regulatory agencies, law enforcement agencies and public health officials collect and analyze controlled substance prescription data.

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, an entity of the OJP, will make awards totaling $47 million to aid the development of family drug courts, juvenile drug treatment, aid for children impacted by or at-risk of being impacted by opioid addiction.

“The substance use crisis in American society has been a persistent and deadly problem for decades, and illicitly manufactured fentanyl and synthetic opioids have tightened the grip drugs have on our society,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon for OJP said in the release.

Earlier in the month, the Justice Department announced a separate batch of funding totaling $34 million meant to help communities address crises involving homelessness, mental health and substance use disorders, and other public health and public safety emergencies.

This funding goes toward additional training for law enforcement officers to help them better handle situations where someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, develop partnerships with mental health organizations and research possible law enforcement approaches to homelessness.

Yesterday, Behavioral Health Business reported that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced new support for states to create or enhance community-based mobile crisis intervention services for Medicaid beneficiaries. These teams connect people in a mental health or addiction crisis with behavioral health professionals and paraprofessionals in the moment of crisis, potentially improving outcomes and avoiding law enforcement responses to mental health crises.

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