Local governments across North Carolina are starting to see the first payments from a national multi-billion dollar opioid settlement. Forsyth County officials are seeking public input on how to spend the county's portion.
The state is expected to receive around $750 million over an 18-year period. It's part of an agreement with drug distributors to remediate the impact of opioids on communities nationwide.
Forsyth County is set to receive more than $20 million to implement prevention, treatment and other strategies.
County officials have to check off certain requirements, though, before distributing the funds. The first is to create a committee of local stakeholders that will issue a report with recommendations on how to spend the money. Their first meeting is next week.
Denise Price, Forsyth County's behavioral health services director says a recently launched online survey and community meeting is being planned to get public input.
“You are really hard pressed today to find anyone who hasn't been impacted by the opioid epidemic, so everyone has a perspective that's important and valued and that we want to hear,” says Price.
The funding couldn't come at a better time for impacted communities across the state. Price says emergency room overdose visits in Forsyth County are up about 10 percent this year compared to last year – a trend that has been moving upward for several years.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, last year, there were nearly 3,500 deaths by overdose in the state and 131 in Forsyth County.
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