Gardner commends HHS for getting ahead of meth drug wave

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) praised efforts by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to allow states to use opioid response grants to address the increased use of methamphetamines across the nation.

HHS’s work to expand flexibility within opioid grant funding will help states and communities better address the rising threat of methamphetamine and other psychostimulants like cocaine, Sen. Gardner wrote in a Feb. 19 letter sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

“It is critical that states and local governments are able to use grant funding in a way that will serve what the actual greatest need is, not what Washington assumes they need,” wrote Sen. Gardner. “Flexible funding ensures that communities can be responsive to the situation on the ground, and we must continue to locate and address areas in which Washington bureaucracy stands in the way of the public health response.” 

The senator noted that while much of the national conversation remains focused on the treatment and prevention of opioid addiction, he has learned from local law enforcement and community leaders that meth has become their main concern.

For instance, Sen. Gardner cited the HHS Budget in Brief for fiscal year 2021, which points out that many public health experts in the United States think the nation is entering a fourth wave, highlighted by the rise of overdose deaths related to meth.

“This rings true in my home state of Colorado,” he wrote, “both through the heartbreaking stories relayed to me by local leaders and statistics showing that between 2011 and 2018, Colorado saw a nearly 40 percent increase in admissions for meth addiction.”

States receive a yearly funding allocation from the State Opioid Response grant program, which in prior years has been restricted to focus on the opioid crisis. 

As the threat from psychostimulants like methamphetamine has grown, Congress acted with Sen. Gardner’s support in the 2020 government funding bill to eliminate those restrictions, thereby allowing HHS to expand flexibility within opioid grant funding. 

This year marks the first time that states and communities can address methamphetamines and other psychostimulants with the $1.5 billion in federal funding allocated for fiscal year 2020, according to the senator’s office.


By: Ripon Advance News Service

Ripon Advance