Evansville City Council approves $640K grant in helping fight opioid addiction

Evansville City Council approves $640K grant in helping fight opioid addiction
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 10:49 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A grant of over $640,000 to help combat opioid addiction was approved during the Evansville city council meeting on Monday.

The funding is an allocation of money acquired from a massive lawsuit.

In 2021, there was a settlement between thousands of municipalities and several pharmaceutical companies. Now, Johnson and Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson are paying out $26 billion dollars.

Over the next 17 years, the city of Evansville will be receiving $3.4 million from that settlement.

Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said overdoses and drug use led to 77 deaths in Evansville just last year.

“That’s 77 families who have, well, they’ve been to hell and back,” says Winnecke.

After months of deliberation, it was decided to put forward a proposal to use some of that money to support Youth First, Incorporated and Forefront Therapy.

“Youth First and Forefront Therapy have developed a collaborative plan which will allow the groups to expand their respective evidence-based services,” says Winnecke.

CEO of Forefront Therapy, Ryan Wood told the council that the funds will help them continue to develop a program to deal with pain management through a variety of treatments including occupational and physical therapy.

“We want to get ahead of people before they’re offered those prescription opioids in the first place,” Wood said. “So what can we do to mitigate chronic pain? What can we do to work with Youth First to screen individuals in high school and student athletes?”

CEO Perri Black said much of Youth First’s approach involves having social workers who are embedded in schools in many different Indiana counties and ready to address early signs of opioid abuse.

“Our services and programs equip young people and their families with caring relationships, resiliency and other life skills that in turn lead to a healthier safer future for our young people,” said Black.

With not a single vote against, the council approved over $257,500 for Youth First and over $387,000 for Forefront.

If you want to know more about Youth First’s services, click here.

If you want to know more about Forefront’s services, click here.