On Monday, Sept. 14, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) was awarded a $35 million “State Opioid Response” grant by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is part of the US Dept. of Health and Human Services.

The money will be used to continue the state’s fight against opioid abuse.   It will allow for some much-needed treatment efforts that are part of “NC Opioid Action Plan 2.0.”

Previously, NCDHHS has received a total of $58 million in opioid response grants – which has allowed for over 14,000 North Carolinians to get help.

NC Governor Roy Cooper stated in a Monday press release announcing the new help that the drug problem in the state is being exacerbated.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for people who struggle with substance use disorders, and this funding will help us reduce overdoses in our state,” Cooper stated.

The drug treatment is considered especially needed during the pandemic since the shutdown has made it more difficult for people to get treatment for substance abuse and created extreme economic difficulties for people that often lead to drug abuse. In fact, there’s been a 21 percent increase in emergency department visits related to opioid overdoses compared to the same period last year.

This new $35 million is part of $1.5 billion from the federal government this year that will be awarded to states – as well as to Indian tribes – to fight the drug epidemic.

The money is expected to help about 3,300 new substance abusers as well as increase continuing care for those who’ve been receiving services under existing opioid response grants.

Some of the services the money will help fund include:

  • Medication Assisted Treatment, which state health officials call “the gold standard in treatment for opioid use disorders.”
  • Treatment for drug users in the Cherokee Indian communities in the state.
  • Funding for treatment within the NC Department of Public Safety detention and reentry facilities.
  • Prevention and recovery services across the state.

“This funding will provide life-saving treatment, recovery and prevention services for a portion of the estimated 114,000 North Carolinians that are uninsured and living with a substance use disorder – a number we know is growing in the midst of this pandemic,” said DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.