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PM NewsBrief: Sept. 1, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Friday, Sept. 1, 2023.

Fighting rural overdoses

The U.S. Department of Health announced over $2.6 million in awards on Thursday to support Oklahoma’s response to fentanyl and other opioid overdose risks in rural communities.

According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, 300 people died from fentanyl overdoses in 2022, which is a 538% increase from 47 deaths in 2019. People in rural communities with opioid addictions experience increased barriers in accessing treatment and mental health services.

The federal funding breaks down like this: $1 million to establish treatment sites, $1.2 million to help communities distribute opioid overdose reversal medications, and around $500,000 to help prevent, treat and care for infants exposed to opioids. These awards align with the Biden-Harris administration’s 2022 Unity Agenda, which includes commitments to address opioid overdoses in the U.S.

Cherokee harm reduction services

The Cherokee Nation is launching a new mobile harm reduction service in Northeast Oklahoma. The new initiative builds off the tribal nation's efforts to combat addiction.

Cherokee Nation already has a harm reduction clinic near downtown Tahlequah. Trained staff offered people a kit with narcan, fentanyl test strips and clean syringes. It's also a place to pick up hygiene supplies or have coffee and snacks. But the tribal nation is taking that effort on the road: in a brand new van to bring those same services to people who maybe don't have transportation to Tahlequah. The mobile van will launch in Vinita and move to other communities.

Cherokee Nation reached a $75 million settlement with opioid manufacturers for their role in the opioid crisis. The tribe is using that money to fund these harm reduction services and a new behavioral health center.

A note... our next installment of the AM NewsBrief will be on Tuesday, Sept. 5. From all of us at KGOU, have a safe and happy labor day weekend.

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