Guilford County, like local governments all over the country, is getting a lot of money from a collective lawsuit against opioid makers and distributers, and now county leaders are trying to decide how to spend that money.

To that end, on Friday, May 19, 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.

Attendees included representatives of health and human services and related agencies, the school system, local universities and colleges, area chambers of commerce, the county’s court system and Guilford County government.

The money will come to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, which will have the ultimate say on how it’s used.  The county is expecting to get just under $22 million over the next 18 years, and these input sessions will help the county’s leaders and others start to determine how that money should be spent.

At the first meeting on May 19, those who work to fight drug abuse, and to help addicts, provided information and insight to the group.

The presented ideas included things like more training and substance abuse education the community and for first responders, targeting messages for drug addicts now in jail or prison or who were recently released, and developing methods to reduce the over-prescribing of opioids by the medical community.

Under the county’s agreement with the state of North Carolina, the  opioid settlement funds should be used to save lives using “evidence-based practices and data”

The money is also meant to help address the root causes of substance abuse.