ORLANDO—Today U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla., announced that the University of Central Florida (UCF) will receive $494,412 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combat the opioid epidemic in central Florida. The funds will be used by the university to train a new generation of professionals involved in prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. There are an estimated 2.1 million Americans addicted to opioids, typically to prescription painkillers.
“It breaks my heart to see communities all across Florida and the country be devastated by the opioid epidemic,” said Murphy. “These funds will help stem the alarming rise in opioid overdoses in central Florida, and to recruit an army of professionals that will enhance prevention and treatment efforts and save lives.”
“UCF has been deeply involved with community efforts to fight the opioid epidemic,” said Pamela “Sissi” Carroll, dean of UCF’s College of Community Innovation and Education. “Through the support of this grant, the ‘UCF-Aspire Counselor Training Program in Integrated Care for Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders’ will train new mental health professionals who will be dedicated to working with individuals, couples and families throughout central Florida to fight the epidemic now and in the future.”
The funds are part of HHS’ Opioid Workforce Expansion Program, which provides grants that help train and increase the number of behavioral health professionals to tackle behavioral health needs, including opioid and substance abuse, in high-need populations. The program aims to resolve the specific concerns of children, adolescents, and transitional-age youth in high-need and high-demand areas who are at risk for behavioral health disorders such as opioid addiction.
Last year, Murphy passed into law a measure to ensure that states have effective plans in place to protect infants who are innocent victims of the opioid epidemic. The bill established a grant program to help Florida and other states develop evidence-based policies and procedures so drug-dependent babies receive proper care at the hospital and the necessary family, community, and medical support once they are discharged.