The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) has awarded a $100,000 grant Wellspring Center for Prevention of East Brunswick. The agency is one of only 16 organizations nationwide to be awarded the grant designed to address female opioid misuse prevention. Officials said projects covering cities in 12 states were selected to implement the primary and / or secondary prevention of prescription and illegal opioid misuse by women and girls across the lifespan.
The grant awards come on the heels of a recently released report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality revealing hospitalizations involving opioid pain relievers and heroin increased 75 percent for women between 2005 and 2014, compared to a 55 percent increase among men.
“There is emerging knowledge about the many factors affecting opioid use and misuse by women, including biological, demographic and social factors,” Vanila Singh, chief medical officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, said. “These awards will build partnerships among community-based organizations that consider the unique needs of women and girls; with the ultimate goal of preventing and reducing the impact of the opioid epidemic.”
Helen Varvi, Deputy Director at Wellspring noted that “Middlesex County is ranked in top four NJ counties based on heroin death rate in 2015 (10.31per 100,000 – which is an increase of more than 17% over the previous year).” She then added “County-wide data suggests that women are impacted by the opioid epidemic at noticeably higher rates than males and they need unique/specific prevention & intervention strategies to address the factors that put them at an increased risk.”
The overall goal of the grant is to reduce the number and percentage of females misusing prescription and over-the-counter medications. The programmatic efforts proposed by Wellspring are expected to raise awareness of the problem among citizens of Middlesex County; build capacity of organizations that work with and provide services to women; and, building protective e factors to reduce the likelihood of initiation and progression of opioid misuse.
Wellspring plans to collaborate with several County-based organizations including, Jewish Renaissance Foundation Medical Center in Perth Amboy, the Central Jersey Family Health Consortium, The Injury Prevention Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Middlesex County Health Department and the Middlesex County Division of Addiction & Mental Health Planning, Office of Human Services.