Given the opioid abuse crisis in Guilford County, the county’s Division of Public Health has created a new position – drug and injury prevention manager – and has named long-time health educator Amanda Clark as the first person to fill the role. In her new position, Clark will help develop and put into place Guilford County’s strategies meant to reduce opioid abuse in the county and also reduce opioid-related death.
According to a profile of Clark posted on Guilford County’s website, “Amanda is deeply connected to her work around building sustainable community programs to combat negative health and substance use outcomes. She has spent her career working in rural and urban communities leading community coalitions and developing substance use and mental health education programs.”
This year and in the coming years Guilford County will be getting a total of over $20 million due to a settlement in a nationwide lawsuit state and local governments brought against large opioid makers and distributors who are considered culpable by many for the opioid abuse epidemic in the US. That money will fund some of the tools Clark will have at her disposal when it comes to addressing the consequences of the opioid epidemic.
In the county’s online posting regarding its newest employee, Clark stated her intention to see that money used wisely.
“In 2021 alone, more than 108,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States,” Clark said in the prepared statement. “While there will never be enough funding to undo every harm done to our community by the decades of substance use and overdose crisis; with the right knowledge, careful planning, and collaboration we can make the most of these funds. There are immediate needs to be met, as well as creating and strengthening supports to provide long-term solutions.”
According to statistics provided by Guilford County government, over the past ten years, the county has seen a 200 percent increase in overdose deaths, with opioids accounting for 80 percent of those deaths.
Some of Clark’s previous roles include health education specialist in Surry County, substance use health educator in Forsyth County, and rural outreach program coordinator in Guilford County.
She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.