More than $23 million in grants to 76 cities and counties for opioid abatement and remediation efforts — including more than $8.7 million for Southwest and Southside projects — were approved Friday by the Virginia Opioid Abatement Authority’s board of directors.
The approval confirms recommendations made by the authority’s grants committee earlier this month.
State Sen. Todd Pillion, R-Washington County, who chairs the authority, called the vote “historic,” noting that all regions of the state will receive portions of the grant awards.
“We were pleased to see that communities across the Commonwealth have committed to use opioid settlement funds to truly fight the opioid epidemic, both with new programs and in expansion of existing programs that have proven records of success,” he said in a news release. “Virginia is using its opioid settlement funds to turn the tide against this epidemic, and the projects we funded in this award package will save lives.”
The authority was created by the General Assembly in 2021 to administer the Opioid Abatement Fund.
The decision marks the first major allocation of OAA grants within Virginia since it received its first set of national settlement payments from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids in 2022.
The payments from the various settling companies are expected to continue for at least 16 more years and will exceed $1 billion in total funding; 55% of it, about $550 million, will be controlled by the authority.
Dr. Sarah Thomason, a clinical pharmacist who chairs the OAA’s grants committee, said the authority sought to provide a balance in the types of awards made.
“The programs we funded in this round address gaps across the board, ranging from prevention and education, to treatment, to long-term recovery,” she said in the release.
The awards include grants to 13 individual cities or counties and 26 grants to partnerships in which multiple cities and counties committed to a regional approach. Projects vary based on the identified needs of each community and range from recovery housing to expansion of medication for opioid use disorder treatment programs, the release states.
The grants and projects approved in Southwest and Southside counties and cities were:
Appomattox County: $18,091 to initiate a medication lock box program.
Galax: $18,908 to launch the “Too Good for Drugs” prevention education program, enhance the recovery court, offer naloxone training and distribution, and assist nonprofits with peer-led recovery programs.
Roanoke: $252,867 for Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) training, a peer recovery specialist for the sheriff’s office and adult detention center, and xylazine test strips and a spectrometer for prevention and harm reduction.
Buena Vista: $230,142 for a partnership that includes Buena Vista, Rockbridge County and Lexington to support the first recovery residence in the area, HOPE House Recovery Home.
Grayson County: $260,199 for a partnership, including Grayson and Carroll counties and Galax, to enhance the existing recovery court.
Lynchburg: $1.94 million for a partnership that includes Lynchburg and Campbell County to fund a crisis receiving center.
Martinsville: $20,000 for a partnership that includes Martinsville and Henry County to study and identify community-based options for most effective long-term use of funds for abatement.
Montgomery County: $3.39 million for a partnership that includes Montgomery, Giles, Floyd and Pulaski counties and Radford for the New River Valley Ecosystem of Recovery.
Roanoke: $500,000 for a partnership with Roanoke and Roanoke County to support and expand the Roanoke Valley Collective Response Recovery Ecosystem.
Smyth County: $1 million for a partnership that includes Smyth, Bland, Carroll, Grayson and Wythe counties and Galax to expand office-based opioid treatment services and medication for opioid-use disorders and assist in providing region-wide transitional recovery housing.
Washington County: $745,000 for a partnership that includes Washington County and Bristol to purchase the Mended Women residential treatment center for women in Abingdon.
Wise County: $346,222 for a partnership that includes Wise, Lee and Scott counties and Norton to fund an intensive outpatient treatment facility for youth.