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25 ‘two-spirit’ communities awarded $5.7 million to combat opioid addiction

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(The Center Square) – In Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2023-24 budget, $1 billion was set aside for a “Master Plan for Tackling the Fentanyl and Opioid Crisis.”

The Department of Health Care Services plays an integral role in administering aspects of the master plan to bring the fentanyl crisis under control, by reinvesting in prevention, harm reduction, and treatment and recovery, through its Medication-assisted Treatment Expansion Project.

Newsom announced on Monday the awarding of $5.7 million to 25 Two-Spirit/LGBTQ+ entities under the MAT Expansion Project, which falls under the scope of the master plan. “Two Spirit” is a native American concept used to describe an individual who displays characteristics different to their biological sex.

“Awardees will support 2S/LGBTQ+ organizations’ outreach and education activities for opioid use and stimulant use disorders, while creating tangible links to services and treatment providers within their communities,” said DHCS Director Michelle Baass.

“These organizations are focused on the 2S/LGBTQ+ community, striving for health equity through culturally and linguistically appropriate prevention and education projects.”

MAT supports 12 Indian Health Programs among its 30 grant programs.

On June 1, MAT awarded $7.4 million for Mobile Crisis Care “to support tribal entities in expanding access to behavioral health crisis and non-crisis care.” The Tribal Local Opioid Coalition was awarded $1.2 million under MAT to support 11 organizations on June 13.

Drug addiction and opioid use is reportedly higher nationwide, among lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults, according to the governor’s office.

Grants for the awarded entities fund a maximum of up to $250,000 per awarded party for the 12-month contract period from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024 ‘to increase access to Medication Assisted Treatment, reduce unmet treatment needs, and reduce opioid overdose-related deaths.”

Counseling, behavioral therapies in combination with medications and culturally appropriate services will be used in the treatment of drug addiction to help Two-Spirit/LGBTQ+ communities sustain recovery.

MAT has also awarded grants to 25 LBGTQ+ community-based service providers for opioid and stimulant use prevention and recovery, and funded low-barrier opioid treatment at Syringe Service Programs

“Education and outreach are critical tools in our arsenal – to prevent tragedy, to connect people with treatment, and to fight the life-threatening stigma that stops too many people from getting help. The best way forward is together – leaving no one alone in this battle,” Newsom said.

DHCS is investing more than $558 million in various opioid prevention and treatment grant activities.

“California has an all-hands-on-deck strategy for tackling the fentanyl and opioid crisis impacting every community across our state and country,” according to Newsom.

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