As the opioid epidemic continues to devastate Massachusetts communities, state officials have announced funding for addiction prevention programs at schools, nonprofits and community groups.
Attorney General Maura Healey announced on Monday that she will award $700,000 in funding across 41 organizations for evidence-based substance use prevention education.
“We will never get control of this epidemic until prevention becomes a priority,” Healey said in a statement. “With these grants, we will partner with schools and community organizations to empower young people and protect the next generation from falling victim to this public health crisis. But these grants are only a start. We must continue to address this unmet need.”
Opioids kill more than five people every day in Massachusetts. The state’s Department of Public Health estimates that more than 1,900 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016.
Ninety percent of adults struggling with addiction began their substance abuse when they were under 18 years old, according to the AG’s office, and 50 percent began when they were under the age of 15.
“As shocking as it seems, this education and prevention work has to be targeted at kids,” Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey said in a statement. “To break this epidemic long term, tomorrow’s addictions need to be prevented right now.”
Funding for the programs comes from settlements Healey’s office recently reached with CVS and later Walgreens. The programs will run for two years, through April 2019, and will reach 25 school districts as well as law enforcement agencies, community health organizations and nonprofits statewide.
In Suffolk County, grant recipients include Chelsea Public Schools, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, St. Mary’s Center for Women & Children and more.
Healey’s office first announced the grant in November after receiving a settlement with CVS Pharmacy concerning its procedures around dispensing opioids. This additional funding marks an “unprecedented investment” in substance abuse prevention education for Massachusetts schools, according to the AG’s office.