Arlington to Receive Substance Use Treatment and Prevention Grant

Published on October 26, 2018

mental-e1540567505805.jpg Arlington County has been awarded $250,000 from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield (CareFirst) to help people with substance use disorders.

The grant is part of the insurer's nearly $2.1-million investment in community health organizations working to combat substance use disorders, including opioid use disorders, in Maryland, Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Arlington is one of 11 communities to receive this competitive funding.

The grants will help Arlington and other communities bolster their substance use disorder treatment and prevention programs and expand their patients' access to those programs. CareFirst's contribution to the nonprofit health organizations is expected to impact more than 115,000 patients suffering from a substance use disorder.

MORE: A Snapshot of the Opioid Crisis

"We're pleased that CareFirst has included Arlington in this important regional effort," County Board Chair Katie Cristol said. "This grant shows CareFirst's commitment to finding ways to address the opioid crisis through partnerships with the community-based health clinics that are on the "front lines' of this battle—including our Department of Human Services and Community Services Board."

The County Board is expected to formally accept and appropriate the grant award at its Nov. 17 meeting.

The Arlington Department of Human Services (DHS) pursued the competitive grant opportunity to expand treatment and outreach for individuals with substance use disorders and who are at high risk of overdose and death. As part of the grant DHS will:

  • Provide training to local hospital and primary care partners on Screening, Brief Interventions and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), an evidence-based community intervention

  • Staff a phone line seven days a week to conduct post-Emergency Department follow-up to individuals with substance use crises and to follow up on community overdose hotspots

  • Assist in the Operation Safe Station project, a partnership with the Commonwealth Attorney's Office, the Arlington County Police Department, and DHS that will allow people to come to the Magistrate's office to surrender drugs/paraphernalia and request treatment

  • Expand training on naloxone administration

  • Expand peer supports to individuals currently receiving substance use treatment services


MORE: Opioid Awareness Resources

The grant allows for the expansion of services, enhanced outreach capacity, and community training and engagement. Primary outcome measures include:

  • Increased capacity for assessment, screening and referral by community providers

  • Reduced overdoses, fatalities and substance use crises

  • Increased pretreatment and prevention education

  • Increased knowledge in best prescribing practices for individuals with substance use disorders


The grant provides $250,000 over a two-year period. No local funding match is required.

Arlington and the Opioid Crisis


Arlington has not been immune from the nationwide explosion of opioid overdoses. The number of recorded overdoses in Arlington jumped from 10 in both 2014 and 2015 to 45 in 2016 and 74 in 2017. There have been 40 recorded overdoses in Arlington so far in 2018.

The Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative (AARI), launched in 2017, is a collaborative group of community partners working to raise awareness of the opioid crisis. AARI continues to focus on the response to opioid related issues, including prevention services, increasing access to treatment, and community outreach. The initiative includes stakeholders from across the community, including providers specializing in the treatment of substance use disorders, Public Safety, Public Schools, medical providers, and residents who have been personally affected by this crisis.