Over the last two years, Guilford County government has received a lot of extra funding from various federal and state relief programs, and now the county is also getting extra funds from the private sector. Guilford County will get a portion of the $26 billion legal settlement that state and local governments have reached with major opioid makers and distributors.

The money is going to be used to fund resources that help address the harm caused by the opioid epidemic, and county officials want to hear from residents as to how that money can best be used.

Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson, AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson agreed to pay a total of $26 billion to settle claims that their companies’ practices promoted and perpetuated the nation’s deadly opioid crisis.

According to county officials, “the settlement funds received by Guilford County will allow for new approaches and expansion of existing efforts to assist with the treatment, recovery, and support of our residents with substance use disorder.”

That’s where local residents and community organizations come in. Guilford County leaders are asking residents how the settlement funding should be used.

Organizations can now fill out an online “Partner Organization Interest Form” to express interest in participating in the response or to offer other ideas.

The county also plans to hold “community engagement sessions” to help determine funding priorities and also help people better understand the possible uses of settlement funds.

County leaders will be seeking ideas that help complement current efforts against the opioid abuse epidemic. Here are some of the ways Guilford County and its partners are currently battling opioid abuse…

•The Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem (GCSTOP) – a joint effort between Guilford County and UNC-Greensboro to address the opioid epidemic.

•Save A Life Guilford – a collaboration between Guilford County’s Department of Public Health, GCSTOP, Triad Adult and Pediatric Medicine and other organizations to combat the opioid crisis and provide needed resources.

•The NC FIT Program. NC FIT provides resources and support to those leaving prisons and jails in an effort to allow them to become self-sufficient and healthy members of society.

The input from citizens to county leaders will help shape the county’s response as well as how the new funding is used.

In Guilford County, those who are battling opioid addiction, or know someone who is, can call 336-890-2700 for help.