Wake County seeks help to best spend $35 million to fight opioid epidemic

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RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) – Wake County held its first community meeting Tuesday to begin gathering input on how best to combat the opioid epidemic.

The county is set to receive $35 million over the next 18 years from the National Opioid Settlement Fund.

“The opioid epidemic affects so many families, and even if your family hasn’t dealt with addiction, I’m sure you know a family that has,” said Sig Hutchinson, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “For all of these reasons and more, it’s important that residents can weigh in on how best to use these funds to help individuals and families in our community.”

Nearly 200 people died of overdoses in Wake County last year, and 1,000 emergency room visits were related to overdoses. The county reported a higher rate of naloxone overdose reversals last year than the national average.

About 28,000 North Carolinians died of drug overdoses between 2000 and 2020, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). According to the NCDHHS, in 2020, about nine people died a day from drug overdoses.

Tuesday’s meeting brought together more than 250 leaders, health professionals and community members to discuss ways to reduce these statistics. Participants emphasized the need to reduce barriers to treatment, reduce stigma and increase the number of beds in the county.

Megan Peavy with Recovery Communities of North Carolina said she saw some of the county’s needs firsthand while suffering from substance use disorder for a decade.

“I think there are a lot of gaps. There are a lot of gaps between treatment providers that cost money, people who are uninsured, underinsured, unemployed, homeless, access to harm reduction, harm reduction services — a lot of work needs to be done, Peavey said.

She said adding those federal dollars worries her, but it’s important to fund the right things so it can make a real difference in people’s lives.

Peavy said she would like to see more money go to overdose response teams and providing people with safe places to stay.

Some other strategies the county is considering include recovery support services, overdose response teams, addiction treatment for incarcerated people, and evidence-based addiction treatment.

“That’s what’s so interesting about our work today, we have a whole set of ideas,” Hutchinson said.

The county plans to launch an online survey to further gather input on how to prioritize strategies.

The results of the study, along with research conducted by the Wake County Overdose Task Force, will help develop the county’s guidelines.

Next month, Wake County commissioners will make final decisions about which strategies will receive funding.

National Opioid Settlerst distributes a total of $26 billion across the country.

For more information on Wake County’s progress and efforts, Click here.

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Wake County seeks help to best spend $35 million to fight opioid epidemic

Source link Wake County seeks help to best spend $35 million to fight opioid epidemic