LITTLE ROCK —Arkansas has been awarded up to $1.9 million in federal grant money to help fund drug courts, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Friday.


The agency said in a news release its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will provide the money to the state over several years. The total amount awarded may vary depending on the availability of funds.


Drug courts seek to direct criminal defendants with substance-abuse problems to treatment programs and give them incentives to avoid incarceration by completing the programs, thereby improving the defendants’ health, easing the burden on the criminal justice system and enhancing public safety.


Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said in the release that expanding access to treatment and recovery services is part of the agency’s strategy for addressing America’s opioid epidemic.