Western Mass organizations receive grants for substance abuse and recovery programs

Western Mass organizations receive grants for substance abuse and recovery programs

Western Massachusetts organizations have recently been awarded grants to bolster their substance abuse and recovery programs. These grants, provided through various federal and state initiatives, aim to address the growing need for comprehensive support systems in the region.

A block grant is a noncompetitive, formula-based funding mechanism mandated by the U.S. Congress. Eligible entities must submit an annual application to demonstrate compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements to receive this funding. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) oversees two primary block grant programs: the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) and the Substance Use Block Grant (SUBG).

The MHBG program provides funds and technical assistance to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and six Pacific jurisdictions. These funds are used to offer community-based mental health services to adults with serious mental illnesses and children with serious emotional disturbances. The program also monitors the progress of implementing a comprehensive mental health system.

The SUBG program similarly provides funds and technical assistance to the same regions, including one tribal entity. These funds are used to plan, implement, and evaluate activities that prevent and treat substance use disorders and promote public health.

Grantees use these block grant programs to supplement Medicaid, Medicare, and private insurance services. Specifically, the funds are used to support individuals without insurance, fund successful treatment and recovery services not covered by other insurance, provide primary prevention activities, and collect performance and outcome data to assess the effectiveness of these services.

SAMHSA allocates these block grants by setting aside a percentage of the appropriated amount for data collection, technical assistance, and program evaluation. The baseline allotments are calculated based on factors such as the Population-at-Risk, Cost-of-Services, and Fiscal Capacity Indexes. Adjustments are made to ensure statutory minimum allotment constraints are met.

In Western Massachusetts, organizations like Rural Recovery Resources in Great Barrington have been pivotal in addressing substance abuse issues. Gary Pratt, the director of Rural Recovery Resources, has been a key figure in utilizing grant funding to combat substance use stigma and provide essential services. Pratt, who has been in recovery since 2008, emphasizes the importance of education and awareness in addressing substance use issues.

Pratt’s organization was created with funding from the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), a multi-year initiative aimed at reducing the morbidity and mortality of substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder. The RCORP implementation grants are designed to strengthen and expand prevention, treatment, and recovery services using evidence-based interventions and promising practices.

The story of Great Barrington’s journey from pre-grant to post-grant award is a testament to the impact of these funds. Ananda Timpane, executive director of the Railroad Street Youth Project (RSYP), recalls the community’s response to a series of substance use-related fatalities in the late 1990s. The tragic events led to the formation of a task force and the eventual creation of RSYP, a youth-led organization focused on substance use prevention and support.

RSYP’s successful substance use program, in collaboration with the South Berkshire Community Health Coalition (SBCHC), has been instrumental in community education and prevention efforts. Projects like “Talking with Teens” and “Kitchen Table Talks” have provided valuable resources and training for the community.

The RCORP grant has enabled the creation of Rural Recovery Resources, which opened in early 2021 despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The organization offers a range of services, including recovery coaching, harm reduction education, and warm handoffs to other recovery organizations. The South County Recovery Center, which houses Rural Recovery Resources, now provides programming seven days a week.

Pratt credits the success of the recovery center to resources like “From The Ground Up: How to Build Your Own Peer-to-Peer Recovery Center,” published by the state-funded RECOVER Project. This guide helped the organization navigate the complexities of creating a recovery center from scratch.

In addition to the recovery center, Rural Recovery Resources has developed a “referral tree” on their website, offering a decision-tree function similar to an interaction with an intake coordinator. This tool helps individuals find the appropriate services and support they need.

The grants awarded to Western Massachusetts organizations are making a significant impact on the region’s ability to address substance abuse and support recovery. By providing essential funding and resources, these grants are helping to build a stronger, more resilient community.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top