Greensboro, NC – Guilford County is set to receive approximately $21.7 million in opioid settlement funds over the next 18 years to help mitigate the harm caused by the opioid epidemic. In 2022 alone, Guilford County EMS administered naloxone to 1,691 patients in all corners of Guilford County to reverse an opioid overdose. The county is developing a strategic plan to identify and implement new, evidence-based approaches and to expand existing treatment, recovery, and support of residents with opioid use disorder.
On Friday, May 19, 2023, the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services along with Guilford County Emergency Services, and Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem (GCSTOP) hosted the county’s first community stakeholder input session to gain insight from key community members on strategies for use of the county’s opioid settlement funds. Attendees represented a wide variety of community partners critical to understanding and addressing the opioid epidemic including health and human services agencies, universities and colleges, schools, Chambers of Commerce, Courts, and Guilford County Government.
“The Opioid Epidemic is not over. We are still losing people across our community from all demographics and of all ages to opioid misuse. Today is the beginning of a critical conversation about how we create a shared vision for engaging people in our community to address the root causes of substance use; prevent or intercept the onset of addiction; promote safe prescribing practices; ensure evidence-based preventions, treatments, recovery, and harm-reduction supports are available and accessible; and reduce the number of people dying from opioid use, misuse, and overdose,” said Dr. Iulia Vann, Guilford County Director of Public Health. “Listening and understanding what our community partners are seeing and hearing is an important first step in this process toward healing from the harm caused by this epidemic.”
Under a Memorandum of Agreement with the State of North Carolina, the county will:
- Use opioid settlement funds to save lives
- Use evidence-based practices and data to guide spending
- Address root causes of substance use
- Focus on equity and populations who are impacted the most
- Center people with lived experience
- Focus on transparency and accountability regarding spending and prioritizing funds
Strategies for utilizing settlement funds to address the opioid epidemic discussed at today’s stakeholder meeting include:
- Treating OUD through evidence-based or evidence-informed programs
- Supporting people in treatment and recovery with evidence-based strategies and programs
- Connecting people who need help to the help they need (connections to care)
- Addressing the needs of justice-involved individuals, including people who are already involved, at-risk of being involved, or are transitioning out of criminal justice settings
- Addressing the needs of pregnant/parenting women and their families, including babies with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS)
- Preventing over-prescribing and ensuring appropriate prescribing and dispensing of opioids
- Preventing misuse of opioids
- Preventing overdose deaths and other harms (harm reduction)
- Training and education, including for first responders
- Leadership, planning and coordination
- Research (including, but not limited to, monitoring and evaluation of programs described in the MOA, service delivery, harm reduction efforts, & epidemiological research of OUD-related behaviors
Next, the county will finalize a needs assessment and strategic plan, create the Opioid Collaborative Task Force, and present recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on recommended uses for the opioid settlement funds.
Current & Ongoing Initiatives to Address the Guilford Opioid Challenge include:
- The Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem (GCSTOP), a Guilford County-UNC Greensboro collaboration to address the opioid epidemic.
- Save A Life Guilford, a collaboration between Guilford County’s Department of Public Health, GCSTOP, Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine and other organizations to combat the opioid crisis and provide much needed resources.
- The NC FIT Program is an essential partner in Guilford County’s efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic. By providing resources and support, NC FIT aims to empower community members returning from incarceration to become self-sufficient and to reach health and wellness goals. This includes focusing on connecting people with chronic diseases, like mental health and substance use disorder, with needed health services to assist with re-entry. NC-FIT clinics are hosted four times per month, twice in High Point and twice in Greensboro, to provide direct support and information about services to clients.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, help is available by visiting or calling the Guilford County Behavioral Health Center or by calling 988 from anywhere in the U.S.