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Wheeler Receives Federal Grant to Address and Prevent Opioid Use Among Girls

Wheeler Clinic

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office on Women’s Health (OWH) awarded a grant to Wheeler to address and prevent prescription and illegal opioid misuse by adolescent girls.

The grant will provide $100,000 per year for three years to support the Connecticut Opioid Misuse Prevention (COMP) Initiative.

The COMP Initiative will expand in-person and online training in Adolescent Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment (A-SBIRT) for up to 4,500 prevention professionals, pediatric care primary providers and professionals who work or volunteer with adolescent girls.

The COMP Initiative builds on an ongoing and successful collaboration between Wheeler and the Connecticut Departments of Children and Families, Mental Health and Addiction Services, and the Connecticut Prevention Network to promote early identification and intervention of mental health and substance abuse disorders.

The COMP Initiative will employ the Adolescent Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (A-SBIRT) approach recommended by SAMHSA and the American Academy of Pediatrics because of its flexibility in working with adolescents across the substance misuse spectrum from abstinence to severe substance use.

A-SBIRT provides a very brief screening, intervention, and referral to treatment tailored to the specific needs of the given adolescent.

“Research shows that women are especially vulnerable to opioid addiction,” said Judith A. Stonger, MA, CPS, CARC, Wheeler’s vice president of Prevention, Wellness and Recovery. “This grant will provide professionals and volunteers with additional knowledge and tools to address mental health and substance use issues at a critical stage in a young woman’s life.”

During the three-year grant period, 1,500 professionals and volunteers will receive the in-person A-SBIRT training, and 3,000 professionals and volunteers will be trained in A-SBIRT online.

Opioid Use among Women in the United States:

The United States has seen an alarming rise in overdose deaths from prescription painkillers and nonprescription opioids among women.

A unique combination of biological, health, and social factors have led to the growing opioid epidemic among women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 1999 and 2015, overdose deaths from prescription pain killers increased 218 percent in men, while for women it increased over 471 percent.

Between 2002 and 2013, heroin use among men increased 50 percent, compared to 100 percent in women. The approximate $1.6M in federal assistance will fund 16 projects in 12 states over a 3-year period.

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