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Mullin' It Over Column

Battling Substance Abuse During Lockdowns

It’s clear the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns had a devastating effect on those battling drug addiction. According to new data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were more than 93,000 drug overdose deaths in 2020. This is 30 percent higher than 2019 and the highest number in a single year on record.


Now, more than ever, we must make sure people have access to the treatment they need. I recently introduced the Excellence in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Act of 2021, which gives every state the opportunity to fully fund Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) in their communities to expand access to high-quality mental health and addiction services.


In 2014, Congress enacted the bipartisan CCBHC Medicaid demonstration program. Since the program launched, CCBHCs have dramatically improved access to community-based opioid addiction care. Today, 431 clinics are operating in 41 states, plus Washington, D.C. and Guam.


The CCBHC pilot program in Oklahoma has assisted those battling mental illness and substance abuse disorders for the last four years and the accomplishments are incredible. In my district, Grand Lake Mental Health Center has seen a 95 percent reduction in inpatient psychiatric admissions in its seven-county service area because of the program. In 2015, before the program began, there were 1,115 inpatient psychiatric admissions in the Grand Lake Mental Health Center service area. In 2018, there were only 15.


CCBHCs have been a vital pillar in supporting those battling mental illness and substance abuse disorders for the last several years. My legislation ensures the good work being done in these communities can continue and expands this successful program to more states. By increasing access to treatment, we can help ensure no more lives are lost to drug overdoses.

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