Brunswick County decides opioid settlement spending strategy, approves new position

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to direct the next year of funding towards “evidence-based, high impact” strategies.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 5:27 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Brunswick County is set to receive $13.6 million in NC Opioid Settlement funds spread out annually until 2038. Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to direct the next year of funding towards “evidence-based, high impact” strategies.

The state calls this “Option A” for local governments to fund services aimed at combating the opioid epidemic through the following strategies: Evidenced-based addiction treatment, Recovery support services, Recovery housing, Employment-related services, Early intervention programs, Naloxone distribution, Post-overdose response teams, Syringe service programs, Criminal justice diversion programs, Addiction treatment for incarcerated persons, Reentry programs.

Commissioners also approved adding a new position in the county’s Social Services Department for a mental health and substance abuse clinician.

In a request to commissioners, Social Services Director Catherine Lytch says this new role is necessary because the primary reason for children being brought into foster care in Brunswick County is opioid use. Lytch added that 46 babies born in the county last year were born positive for drugs, and claims workers have seen an increase in drug use among the families seeking help.

Kenny House, the Vice President of Clinical Services at Coastal Horizons, hopes the addition of this new position will have a positive impact on fighting the opioid epidemic.

“This person can help families that are impacted by the opioid epidemic by overdose, and also those at risk for that,” House said. “So, in a way, we’re really addressing families in the context, as well as just individuals who may suffer from opioid use disorders.”

House says nearly half of people with drug addictions also deal with mental health issues, adding that the fight against the opioid epidemic is a long one.

“It’s exciting in the sense that it has the potential to put some things in place that can have years and years of benefits to that, in terms of reaching people, in terms of preventing opioid use disorder, but then also responding to people who need help and treatment and recovery services,” he said.

House says while Coastal Horizons is not directly involved in the addition of a new clinician to the county staff, he expects the organization will apply for funding in the future.