Wake County Approves Plan to Battle Opioid Epidemic

In 2021, over 200 people in Wake County died of drug overdoses – with opioids playing a role in three quarters of those deaths. Today, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved a plan to invest millions of dollars into efforts to tackle this devastating crisis in our community.

“The opioid epidemic has affected so many people here in Wake County and across the country,” said Sig Hutchinson, chair, Wake County Board of Commissioners. “It’s one of the worst public health emergencies our nation has faced in decades, and counties are on the front lines.”

Today’s decision to approve the Wake County Opioid Settlement Funding Plan will put $4.85 million toward four key initiatives through June 2024. It’s the initial phase of a plan that will invest a total of $36.1 million into fighting the opioid epidemic over the next 18 years.

“This is just the start – there’s a lot of work to be done,” Hutchinson said. “It’s going to take creative, determined efforts by many people to attack this problem head on.”

Wake County’s Plan

North Carolina is part of a historic $26 billion agreement that will help bring desperately needed relief to communities impacted by opioids. These funds will be used to support prevention, treatment, recovery and other life-saving programs and services in communities throughout the state. In November 2021, Wake County agreed to participate in the national settlement.

On Aug. 2, more than 250 people representing multiple stakeholder interests spent three hours hearing from experts and survivors and discussing potential ways to use the funds. Following the meeting, the public voted and ranked their top five priorities to include in the initial plan.

To support these top strategies, the plan will fund four key initiatives during the first two fiscal years, which run from September 2022 to June 2024.

  • Opioid Use Disorder Treatment ($2 million)
    • Fund Medication-Assisted Treatment for uninsured or underinsured people (with any medication approved for this purpose by the FDA) and assist them in getting additional help from community providers.
    • Provide flexible resources to support the needs of those going through Opioid Use Disorder treatment.
  • Care Navigation ($1.5 million)
    • Establish and equip a team of navigators to help residents access addiction treatment, recovery support, harm reduction services, primary healthcare or any other services they need to improve their health and well-being.
    • Provide flexible resources to navigators to prevent harm and help people overcome barriers to accessing and continuing treatment services.
  • Early Identification and Intervention ($600,000)
    • Expand education and training programs for youth, parents, community groups, coaches, youth ministers, employers and others who encounter young people.
  • Housing Access and Support ($750,000)
    • Provide access to housing for people with Opioid Use Disorder including supportive housing, recovery housing, housing assistance programs, training for housing providers, or recovery housing programs that allow or integrate FDA-approved medication with other support services.

Work on these initiatives will begin this month. The initial spending plan will include start-up funding for new programs, one-time funds for some programs and on-going costs for others.

County leaders will monitor performance to determine the impact of their investments, monitor trends affecting this epidemic and leverage other funding sources. Planning for subsequent years will be based on outcomes achieved during this initial phase of the plan, as well as additional stakeholder input and a current state assessment of the treatment, recovery and support environment at that time.

Learn more about the plan’s priorities and progress at wakegov.com/opioidsettlement.


Press Release