Guilford County – in cooperation with multiple partners – is working to establish a 70- to 100-bed long-term drug rehabilitation center to meet a need that the Guilford County Board of Commissioners has discussed for years. Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston told the Rhino Times on Tuesday, Nov. 15 that this is a critical county need that will be part of the county’s larger effort to address the problem of homelessness.

Alston said the central benefit of the coming rehab center is that it will have long-term beds.

According to the chairman, one problem with current rehabilitation options in Guilford County is that, in many cases, stays are limited to 28 days or less.

“That’s not long enough,” Alston said, adding that a facility able to help people for longer periods will reduce the chance of their relapsing into addiction.

The chairman said the rehabilitation center needs to be built “ASAP” due to the urgency of the drug addiction and homelessness problem in Guilford County.

He also said that he and other county officials are engaging in talks with Wake County and other local governments to learn from their experiences in longer-term rehabilitation programs for drug addicts and mental health patients.

Alston said the whole community must come together to make the center a success. He said he wants the partnership to include area local governments, Cone Health, community organizations, social services staff and others.

Guilford County commissioners have discussed this need for such a facility for years – with those conversations often being led by Guilford County Commissioner Kay Cashion. She has frequently been a strong advocate for much greater mental health and drug rehab services in Guilford County.

Though Cashion, Alston and many other commissioners have talked about this need for years, Guilford County now has a lot of money in the bank for special projects. That’s due to increasing property values, incoming money from the national lawsuit by local and state governments against the opioid industry, and federal money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Alston said county officials are exploring multiple funding sources for the new center that’s meant to battle drug addiction, homelessness and mental health problems.