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Federal funds to help state battle meth, opioid abuse

LIHUE (AP) — Hawaii is expected to receive more than $4 million in new federal funding to help respond to methamphetamine and opioid abuse.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz announced the receipt of a grant that expanded its funding for the first time to address stimulants including meth, The Garden Island reported Saturday.

The grant previously could be used only for responses to the opioid epidemic.

The grant is issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grant will help pay for prevention, treatment and recovery support services, Schatz said in a statement.

“Meth misuse and addiction has been a serious problem in Hawaii for decades, but recently the meth-related death rate has skyrocketed,” said Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The grant “will help us put critical resources towards saving lives and combating this crisis,” Schatz said.

The increased flexibility in the grant came after Schatz issued a call in December 2019 for more federal resources to respond to the use of meth, he said.

Federal intervention in Hawaii communities facing escalating problems of meth would “help to reduce the number of deaths and serious harm from misuse and addiction,” Schatz said at the time.

Hawaii had 6.8 meth-related deaths per 100,000 residents in 2016, nearly three times the national rate of 2.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

The number of deaths on the islands related to meth have surpassed deaths stemming from opioids in each of the past five years, Schatz’s office said.