Columbus County outlines opioid settlement spending strategy

Columbus County is set to receive more than $7.8 million in opioid settlement funds before 2039.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:27 PM EST
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Columbus County is set to receive more than $7.8 million in opioid settlement funds before 2039. Each year, the county must outline how it will spend its share of that money to combat the opioid epidemic.

Commissioners recently approved spending $458,284 in 2023 on five different strategies to address drug addiction and recovery. According to the NCDHHS, Columbus County’s overdose death rate in 2021 was 66.7 per 100,000 residents. That’s above the state average of 38.5

The county will allocate $35,000 to hire someone to track its opioid settlement spending, $36,968 to create a database for opioid-related incidents, and $22,326 to implement a drug education program for students in sixth grade at Columbus County Schools and Whiteville City Schools.

The majority of the funding approved for 2023 will go towards reserving beds at the Healing Place of New Hanover County. Commissioners approved spending $289,080 to execute a contract with the Healing Place for 10-12 beds to be allocated for Columbus County residents.

“If any counties want to work directly with us, then we’re more than willing to have conversations with them,” said Brian Mingia, executive director of the Healing Place of New Hanover County. “But at the end of the day, this service is provided at no cost to the individuals.”

Columbus County will also spend $75,000 to hire someone to serve as the liaison for referrals to the Healing Place and other addiction recovery resources.

Mingia says he expects the Healing Place to be close to full once operations begin on Wednesday.

“It’s really more about managing those beds as they’re coming through,” he said, “Our goal is not to say no to anyone, but with the 200 beds that we do have access to here, we’ll be coordinating with all the counties to make sure that we give as many individuals the chance to recover as possible.”

To read more about North Carolina’s share of opioid settlement funding, click here.