Wake County Holds Community Meeting to Address Opioid Epidemic

Wake County will receive more than $35 million over the next 18 years as part of the National Opioid Settlement, a historic $26 billion agreement that will bring desperately needed help to communities harmed by the opioid epidemic. And on Aug. 2, leaders will ask the community for input on how to spend it.

“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.”

In 2021, nearly 200 people died as a result of drug overdoses in Wake County. More than 1,000 hospital emergency department visits were attributed to overdoses. Community members reported 546 overdose reversals using naloxone — that’s 49.1 times per 100,000 residents, which is above the state’s rate of 39.6.

On Aug. 2, county leaders, healthcare workers and those who have experienced addiction or have family members who have will come together to brainstorm and prioritize ways money from the settlement can be used to address the opioid epidemic. Available strategies 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 meeting will include:

  • A keynote from Dr. Shuchin Shukla with Mountain Area Health Education Center to provide context around the opioid epidemic;
  • A picture of Wake County’s situation from Dr. Michael Baca-Atlas with UNC Healthcare;
  • Information on the opioid settlement and opportunities from Denise Foreman, assistant Wake County manager;
  • A presentation on a lived experience from Megan Peevey with Recovery Communities of North Carolina; and
  • Breakout sessions to strategize how to use the settlement funds.

After the meeting, Wake County staff will conduct an online survey to prioritize the proposed strategies. They will use the results — along with with previous work by the county commissioners, Wake County Overdose Task Force, 2023/24 Behavioral Health Plan, Alliance Health and community stakeholders — to develop recommendations for the Health and Human Services committee of the Wake County Board of Commissioners to consider at its August meeting.

County commissioners, who will make the final decisions regarding funding, will consider these recommendations in September, establish a special revenue fund for settlement funds, and adopt a resolution authorizing strategies and funding amounts.

The meeting runs from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Wake County Commons Building, 4011 Carya Drive, Raleigh. A virtual option is also available. Anyone interested can register at wakegov.com/opioidsettlement.

Press Release