UMMC receives federal grant to expand addiction care

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) — The University of Mississippi Medical Center will allocate a new $6 million dollar grant to addiction treatment in the state.

Addiction treatments can be life-changing, but are not always within reach for some. Others don’t know where to turn for help. dr. Jefferson Parker explains that this latest $6 million dollar federal grant will give more Mississippians access to UMMC’s expertise.

“One of the most common things that happens is I get a call from a family member who is desperate for treatment for a loved one,” Dr. Parker, professor and department director of psychology in the UMMC’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, who is also co-director of the Center for Innovation and Discovery in Addictions (CIDA). “One of the things this grant will deliver is a real-time statewide resource where someone, a practitioner, or a family member can go online to see which treatment facilities now have a bed, which ones do not.”

The additional funding also explains the lack of health care coverage in the state.

“This grant money will provide treatment grants that people can send to residential treatment if they need it,” Parker added. “We have money to support drugs that are meant for drug treatment if they can’t afford it, and it’s clinically appropriate for them. And even money to help with transportation from their home, for example to the treatment center or from home to the hospital.” pharmacy to pick up that drug, really comprehensive services that will be available statewide.

And telehealth means people can make appointments even with just a smartphone. The UMMC works to help people with both drug and alcohol addiction.

“Probably the main opioids you still see are prescription opioids,” Dr. James Rowlett, UMMC professor of psychiatry and co-director of UMMC’s CIDA. “That has decreased a bit. Fentanyl just skyrocketed. Really. Since the pandemic it has gone up earlier, but the pandemic seemed to be accelerating that.”

This comes just as the CDC is relaxing its guidelines for prescribing opioids for the first time since 2016. Some experts say the earlier guidelines helped reduce the rise in opioid prescriptions across the country. But others argue it led to unintended consequences for patients in pain.

For more information on how the UMMC will use this latest grant, click HERE.

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