Highlight on Nevada: Grants received for summer food and combating Rx drug abuse

Nevada has been granted $2.4 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for summer food purchases for children and almost a million dollars from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement data and surveillance components of the state’s strategic action plan to reduce prescription drug abuse.

The Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children (Summer EBT) Program provides a monthly benefit on a debit-type card that can be used throughout the summer for food purchases at authorized stores. The Summer EBT Program helps cover a critical gap in food security for children who otherwise receive free meals during the school year. Nevada was one of eight grantees. The following Nevada counties will be served by the grant: Douglas, Lyon, Washoe, Elko, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Nye, Pershing, and White Pine.

Nevada’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) received funding from CDC’s Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States program to be used through 2019 to implement data and surveillance components of the strategic action plan of the State of Nevada’s Plan to Reduce Prescription Drug Abuse. The data will be used to “tell the story,” direct interventions, and track performance. The project will also allow the implementation of a Prescriber Score Card program to assist in the identification of high-risk prescribing activity by geographic area and provider specialty. The Prescriber Score Card Program will help to inform and educate prescribers on their habits and ultimately serve to support policy and resource decisions by the state.

According to Prescription Drug Abuse: Strategies to Stop the Epidemic, Nevada has the fourth highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States, with 20.7 per 100,000 people suffering drug overdose fatalities.  The same report indicates that the number of drug overdose deaths in Nevada increased by 80 percent since 1999 when the rate was 11.5 per 100,000.  In addition, the 2013 Nevada Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that 19.4 percent of high school respondents reported that they have taken prescription drugs without a doctor’s prescription. Nevada also ranks very high among the states in prescribing patterns for highly addictive opioid drugs:

  • second highest for hydrocodone;
  • second highest for oxycodone;
  • fourth highest for methadone; and
  • seventh highest for codeine.

Nevada’s participation in the CDC’s Prescription Drug Overdose: Prevention for States program is part of the CDC’s efforts to scale up prevention activities as part of a national response to the opioid overdose epidemic. A total of 29 states participate in the program.