- Associated Press - Sunday, February 26, 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The state has awarded grants to create five regional task forces to prevent substance use disorder and reduce opioid overdose deaths.

The Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals awarded $1.4 million in federal grant funding to the new task forces. The money will be used in part to assess community substance use prevention needs and resources.

The state says there were at least 326 drug overdose deaths in 2016, and 57 percent of those were related to fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid. That’s compared with 290 deaths in 2015, of which about 47 percent were fentanyl-related.

Previously, 34 organizations served as prevention task forces for municipalities.

The state plans to fund two more regional groups. They’ll oversee activities to prevent substance use and promote health regionally.


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