Senators Collins, King Announce Over $2 Million to Continue Combating Opioid CrisisPosted on February 4, 2022 | Press Releases
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 4, 2021
Contact: Matthew Felling (King) 202-257-7345
Annie Clark (Collins) 202-224-2523
Maine lost an estimated 636 lives—a new record— in 2021 due to overdoses
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced today that the Maine Department of Labor has been awarded $2,093,964 through the third and final round of the funding from the opioid-crisis National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant – bringing the total funding from the program to $6,281,891 over the last two years. This funding from the U.S. Department of Labor will support training, employment services, and disaster-relief jobs in Maine communities affected by the health and economic impacts of the opioid epidemic, allowing individuals who have struggled with substance abuse disorders to find good, sustainable employment that can help save lives. The funding comes as the state sees a spike in overdose fatalities due to challenges created by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the rising danger of fentanyl-laced drugs.
“For years, the opioid epidemic has devastated our state and taken the lives of far too many Maine people. The COVID-19 pandemic’s stresses, combined with the increased prevalence of fentanyl, have aggravated this crisis and driven the highest rates of overdose deaths that Maine has ever seen,” said Senators Collins and King. “In response to this worsening crisis, we must improve the resources and support available for people struggling with substance abuse. This important funding from the U.S. Department of Labor will help the most hard-hit communities across our state address the crisis, and give Mainers recovering from substance use disorders access to life-changing job programs. We’re so grateful for all the hard work our local partners have done to implement these programs, provide a helping hand to those in need, and distribute these critical funds over the last two years.”
“These funds will further bolster EMDC’s effort with other state wide partners in combating the devastating consequences of the opioid epidemic. Our Peer Connectors, who have faced their own recovery and understand its difficulties, assist people in our communities navigate their way back to employment and sustainability,” said Lee Umphrey, President of Eastern Maine Development Corporation. “These additional funds come at a crucial time as challenges, especially substance use disorders, are exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
This grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, is the last allocation of a $6,281,891 million National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant awarded to the state in February 2020 to create temporary disaster-relief employment to address the crisis. The funding will also support employment and training services for people directly impacted by the crisis to prepare them for self-sustaining jobs. Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, Opioid Disaster Recovery Dislocated Worker Grants fund temporary employment opportunities in peer recovery positions and services to reintegrate workers affected by the opioid crisis back into the workforce.
Senators Collins and King have both been committed to combating the opioid epidemic during and prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. As the pandemic separated Americans from their loved ones and made it more difficult to access traditional support systems, the Senators have worked to improve resources and increase awareness of the crisis. In 2020, in the bipartisan COVID-19 relief package, they secured $4.25 billion to support services for mental health and substance use disorders, and last year, they announced $2.5 million to combat the opioid epidemic in Aroostook County.
Senator King also introduced a bipartisan resolution to officially recognize September as “National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month,” and announced that the state would receive nearly $1 million in American Rescue Plan funds to support substance use treatment. As a member of the Senate Health Committee, Senator Collins recently questioned experts on how to better support individuals struggling with addiction. Last month, she introduced a bipartisan bill to expand access to mental health resources during public health emergencies.