Last year, 198 people died as a result of drug overdoses in Wake County. About 1,000 emergency department visits were attributed to overdoses. And community members reported 546 overdose reversals using naloxone. 

Now, the Wake County Board of Commissioners is asking the people most affected by the opioid epidemic how they should fight it. 

The county will receive $36.1 million over the next 18 years as part of the National Opioid Settlement, a historic deal in which the three largest drug distributors (McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen) and opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson are paying out billions of dollars to the communities they harmed. 

Wake County staff, healthcare workers, and people who have experienced addiction met Tuesday to discuss how best to spend the money. County leaders are considering investing in a variety of addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.

Wake County staff are also conducting an online survey that asks residents which programs should be prioritized. Options include: 

  • Evidence-based addiction treatment
  • Recovery support services
  • Recovery housing support
  • Employment-related services
  • Early intervention
  • Naloxone distribution
  • Post-overdose response teams
  • Syringe service program
  • Criminal justice diversion programs
  • Addiction treatment for incarcerated persons
  • Re-entry programs

“The opioid epidemic hits close to home for so many families, and even if your family hasn’t faced addiction problems, I’m sure you know a family that has,” said Sig Hutchinson, chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “For all these reasons and more, it’s important for residents to be able to weigh in on the best use of these funds to help the individuals and families in our community.”

The survey closes at 5 p.m. this Friday, August 5.

Staff will then develop recommendations for the county’s Health and Human Services committee about which programs should be funded. The committee will discuss those options August 22.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners will consider the committee’s recommendations in September. During that meeting, the board is expected to establish a special revenue fund for the settlement money and adopt a resolution earmarking money for different programs.

Learn more about the programs that could be funded here

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