Here’s How One NC County Is Recovering from the Opioid Epidemic

Rosalind Pichardo, the founder of the Philadelphia organization Operation Save Our City, demonstrates how to administer Narcan at the Health and Human Services Humphrey Building on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023, in Washington. Health officials held an event on Friday to mark the availability of the opioid overdose-reversal drug naloxone without a prescription. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

By Leah Sherrell

September 14, 2023

This eastern NC County is using the cash to buy more Narcan, an emergency overdose treatment. They’re also partnering with local orgs to reach more people. Share this with someone in Wilson.

[Editor’s Note: If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, and need help, check out these resources. No judgment. Just treatment.]

North Carolina is set to receive $1.5 billion in opioid settlement money from big pharma companies and their distributors for their role in the opioid crisis.

The first payments were made in May 2022 and the full settlement will be paid out over the next 18 years. Most of the money—85%—will go directly to North Carolina’s 100 counties and 17 municipalities, while the remaining 15% will be distributed at the state level.

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More than 36,000 North Carolinians died from overdoses between 2000 and 2022, according to state health officials. And deaths have been trending upward, spiking during the pandemic.

Here’s How One NC County Is Recovering from the Opioid Epidemic

NC opioid data (Graphs via the NC Department of Health and Human Services)

Local leaders are hoping the opioid settlement money will make a dent in these troubling figures.

Here’s how one NC county is using their money:

Wilson County in eastern NC is primed to implement its share with its well-established community resources and partners, including families and individuals who have experienced the ramifications of substance abuse.

In 2022, the Wilson County Opioid Multidisciplinary Team (OMDT), for example, won an award from the NC Association of County Commissioners for their strategies to prevent substance misuse, increase access to treatment, and fortify the recovery community.

Wilson has dedicated $575,000 of their settlement payment to support 8 strategies in 2023-2024:

  1. Expand equitable treatment for substance abuse
  2. Expand the availability of Naxalon (Narcan)
  3. Expand medication-assisted treatment for those with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)
  4. Expand trauma-informed programming in the public school system
  5. Sustain Localized Syringe Services Programming
  6. Provide stipends to expand housing access for people in recovery
  7. Create and sustain an OUD data dashboard
  8. Supplement local non-profits, faith organizations, and other organizations actively involved in OUD prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery

To learn more about Wilson County’s community partners and programming, visit the OMDT services page.


  • Leah Sherrell

    Leah Sherrell is a multimedia reporter for Cardinal & Pine. A graduate of UNC-Wilmington, she's a resident of Kernersville with a background in video production and communication. Leah uses many forms of media to explore the multifaceted lifestyles and cultures present in North Carolina.

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