Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $9,783,000)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 87,203 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States between September 2019 and September 2020. Although overdose deaths were on the rise before the onset of COVID-19, evidence points to an acceleration during the pandemic. Final 2020 data has not yet been reported, but the CDC estimates that the total could exceed 90,000 overdose deaths.
The intersecting crises of the pandemic and the rise in overdose fatalities compelled federal agencies to adopt measures to treat substance use disorders (SUD) through innovative strategies for maintaining connections, such as widespread use of teletherapy, allowing patients unable to visit an opioid treatment program daily to obtain up to 28 days of take-home medication, and allowing practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine to new patients with opioid use disorder following a phone evaluation.
As some areas of our nation emerge from the pandemic, the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP)-supported projects are ideally positioned to support the Biden Administration’s vision to steer American communities toward expanded, comprehensive, and sustainable responses to SUD that prioritize prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction. As the COSSAP Network hub for training and technical assistance (TTA) since the program’s inception in 2017, the Institute for Intergovernmental Research (IIR) will continue to serve as the nexus of a nationwide COSSAP community of practice that is helping to turn the tide in the battle against substance use.
IIR will continue to leverage innovative and proven coordination processes and infrastructure to meet the needs of the COSSAP initiative by:
• Providing logistical support for and delivering webinars, podcasts, and other distance learning opportunities.
• Producing, editing, and electronically distributing COSSAP Quarterly Updates and other program products.
• Coordinating annual applicant webinars, stakeholder briefings, and new grantee orientation calls.
• Collecting, distributing, and maintaining project-specific communication, articles of interest, reports, and other information.
• Developing content for, maintaining, and enhancing the COSSAP Resource Center website.
• Providing support to enhance efforts to build public health and public safety partnerships to address opioid, stimulant, and other substance use in rural jurisdictions.
A unified COSSAP Network is a fundamental underpinning of the program’s success. As the hub for the entire scope of TTA efforts, IIR will continue to coordinate COSSAP TTA Collaborative calls, collaborate on performance measurement collection, facilitate consensus-driven agenda development for various COSSAP meetings, and support other TTA team tasks and mechanisms as guided by BJA.