The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved the creation of the Orange County Opioid Advisory Committee at its Sept. 6 business meeting. The committee will advise the Board of Commissioners on how to utilize the county’s share of the national opioid settlement funds. Orange County is expected to receive $6,799,780 over the next 18 years and has already received its initial payment of $261,245.
“In July 2021, a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general announced the national opioid settlement,” Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart said. “This is a historic $26 billion agreement that would bring desperately needed help to communities harmed by the opioid epidemic.”
According to Stewart, there were 29 overdose deaths and 110 Emergency Department visits for suspected overdoses in Orange County in 2021. Stewart said more than 90 percent of the deaths were unintentional.
The committee will discuss opioid-related health concerns and issues impacting Orange County residents, advise the BOCC on options to expend funds to prevent opioid use and remedy opioid impacts, and plan and host an annual meeting to receive input on proposed uses of settlement funds.
The BOCC approved a 19-member advisory committee that includes representatives from the Orange County Sheriff, the Hillsborough, Carrboro and Chapel Hill police departments, Orange County schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools, UNC Hospital, Alliance Health and representatives from the following county departments: Social Services, Emergency Services, Criminal Justice Resource Department and Health.
In addition, several spots will be open for county residents through an application process. Two spots will be for individuals with lived experience, along with a substance abuse treatment provider, a community group working on opioid-related concerns, an employment provider and two flex spots.
Residents interested in volunteering for one of the non-designated spots on the committee can contact Tara May at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 245-2125 to be notified when the application is ready.