UMMC receives federal grant to expand addiction treatment services

JACKSON, Ms. (WLBT) – The University of Mississippi Medical Center will be putting a new $6 million dollar grant towards addiction treatment services in the state.

Addiction treatments can be life-changing but aren’t 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 allow more Mississippians to access UMMC’s expertise.

“One of the common things that happen is, I’ll get a phone call from a family member who’s desperately trying to find treatment for a loved one,” described Dr. Parker, professor and division director of psychology in UMMC’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, who also co-directs the Center for Innovation and Discovery in Addictions (CIDA). “One of the things that this grant is going to provide is a statewide real-time resource where someone, a treatment provider or family member will be able to go online and see what treatment facilities have a bed right now, which ones do which one don’t.”

The extra funding also accounts for the lack of healthcare coverage in the state.

“This grant money is going to provide treatment scholarships that will be able to send people to residential treatment if they need that,” added Parker. “We have money to support medications meant for medication-assisted treatment if they’re not able to afford that, and it’s clinically appropriate for them. And also even money to help with transportation from their home, say to the treatment center or from the home to the pharmacy to pick up that medicine, really wraparound services that will be available in the whole state.”

And telehealth means people can have appointments, even with just a smartphone. UMMC is working on those helping with both drug and alcohol addiction.

“Probably the main opioid that you still see are prescription opioids,” explained Dr. James Rowlett, UMMC professor of psychiatry and co-director of UMMC’s CIDA. “That’s reduced a little bit. Fentanyl has just rocketed up. Really. Since the pandemic, it was going up before that, but the pandemic seemed to accelerate that.”

This comes just as the CDC is softening its opioid prescribing guidelines for the first time since 2016. Some experts say the previous guidance contributed to the reduction in the increase in opioid prescriptions nationwide. But others argue it led to unintended consequences for patients with pain.

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

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