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Warner, Kaine announce over $300K to help rural Southwest Virginia fight opioid epidemic

Staff Report • Nov 24, 2017 at 12:00 PM

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced on Tuesday that the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will provide more than $300,000 to help Southwest Virginia communities fight the opioid epidemic.

The funds, totaling $321,638, will support health education initiatives spearheaded by the Virginia Cooperative Extension. These initiatives are aimed at preventing opioid abuse in vulnerable communities in rural Southwest Virginia.

“This grant will help educate young Virginians and other at-risk individuals about the growing risks of prescription drugs, which now claim as many as 60,000 lives every year,” said the senators. “The funds will help empower rural communities in the fight against this growing health epidemic by promoting the responsible use of opioids and helping save lives.”

The grant will fund a project that will target individuals in rural Southwest Virginia who are most at risk of being negatively affected by prescription opioids. The project’s goal is to provide prevention education for youth and their families and to provide skills and support so they can make healthy decisions about drugs.

In addition, the project will target hospital patients to help make them aware of the dangers associated with using opioid pain medications. It will also provide access to support if they (or a family member) experience problems related to opioid abuse.

The grant is provided through NIFA’s Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Grant Program, which seeks to address the needs of rural Americans through individual and family health education programs delivered through cooperative extension.

The program assists relevant, evidence-based, non-formal education programs and services informed by the human, social and behavioral sciences to promote and aggrandize rural health, strengthen economic vitality and, in the long run, mollify the effects of rural privation.