The University of Alabama School of Social Work received a four-year, $3.2 million grant from the Center for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration to combat the opioid epidemic by providing training to first responders to opioid overdoses in rural Alabama.

The funds will jump-start “Project FREEDOM: First Responder Expansion of Education and Distribution of Overdose Medication,” a joint effort between the School of Social Work and the Alabama Department of Mental Health. The program will provide training and education related to opiod overdoses and occupational hazards from opioid exposure to first responders in 14 rural and two urban counties in Alabama, including Jefferson, Tuscaloosa, Blount, Cullman, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Jackson, Lawrence, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, St. Clair, Shelby, Walker and Winston counties.

“Alabama’s first responders have a critical role in the battle against the opioid overdose epidemic,” said Dr. David Albright, UA’s Hill Crest Foundation endowed chair in Mental Health Research. “In this project, we will work to support our first responders by studying burnout, fatigue and secondary traumatic stress among emergency medical service workers and municipality and volunteer fire personnel and develop outreach and training related to the experiences of our first responders, including learning communities on opioid overdose within the 16-county area.”

In 2017, there were more than 70,200 drug overdose deaths in the U.S., according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Alabama providers wrote 107.2 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons – the highest prescribing rate in the country and nearly twice as many as the average U.S. rate of 58.7 prescriptions.

Dozens of cities, counties and states across the nation have filed lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, distributors and pharmacies seeking to hold them accountable for creating and fueling a national opioid crisis. Beasley Allen is representing multiple local governments in Alabama seeking compensation for the increased costs related to the opioid crisis.

In addition, Beasley Allen is working to represent individuals and families that have suffered personal injuries and deaths because of the opioid epidemic. For more information, contact Melissa Prickett or Liz Eiland.

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