Lt. Gov. Smith announces $16.6 million in grants to fight opioid crisis

Governor Mark Dayton's office is taking the opioid crisis into their own hand, announcing more than $16 million in grants for organizations on the front lines of the fight.

Lt. Governor Tina Smith and Human Services Commissioner Emily Piper visited the Wayside Recovery Center in St. Louis Park to make an announcement about $16.6 million in federal grant money, which will be used to combat the opioid epidemic. The location was chosen in part because women and Native Americans are among the hardest hit by the opioid crisis. 

“Life is hard, but with Wayside, I have the ways to overcome everything without having to take a pill,” said Abby Haley, who has been clean from opioid addiction since 2015. 

The $16.6 million in federal grants will be divided up between more than 30 non-profits, local governments and tribal nations over the next three years. Lt. Smith and Commissioner Piper point out the money will go toward a variety of treatment and recovery programs plus make Narcan more readily available and launch a website that will track where treatment beds are ready for use statewide.

“Part of this is building our medication-assisted treatment in places where it's most in need and not available,” said Commissioner Piper. “Part of it, like the detox services, is making sure people don't have to wait for the services, to make sure there aren't those artificial barriers to accessing services.”

While President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency last week and earlier this week the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis voted on its final report, Lt. Smith points out those actions did not come with additional funding and these grants are separate.

“We need to do much more, which is why we strongly support the Opioid Stewardship Bill, which would put a fee of a penny a pill on the companies that sell opioids,” said Smith.

The grants along aren't a cure all, but with a goal of easing opioid addition for approximately 110,000 Minnesotans it aims to help.