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July 15, 2024 6:42 am

Local News

North Carolina Confronts Opioid Crisis with Comprehensive Strategy

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Much like the rest of the country, North Carolina has been impacted by the fentanyl and opioid epidemic. Over the last nine years, more than 14,000 North Carolinians have lost their lives to the crisis brought on by the prescription drug industry. 

But owing to a set of new initiatives championed by Attorney General Josh Stein, there is robust effort underway to turn the tide. Utilizing a strategy focused on reducing both the supply and demand for these dangerous substances, as well as increasing enforcement and treatment, North Carolina is setting a model for the rest of the nation.

A key element of this strategy is the deployment of money won via legal settlements with the companies charged with flooding the state with the deadly drugs. Stein has secured $1.4 billion for North Carolina from companies like McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen, CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and Publicis Health, who were found to have played a major role in the epidemic. So far $335 million has been paid, with the rest set to be paid in the coming years.

Money from the settlements has all been directed toward local governments to help fund prevention, treatment, and recovery services, or harm reduction practices.

This investment, however, is only half of the solution according to Stein. At a recent event at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center, he said that reducing the supply and demand for fentanyl and opioid is key to stopping the epidemic. 

This past year has seen Stein work alongside the state’s Congressional Delegation to secure $300 million in federal funding to install advanced fentanyl scanning technology at airports and other entry points, enhancing the state’s ability to intercept drug shipments. And he’s now pushing for the establishment of a Fentanyl Control Unit within the North Carolina Department of Justice, which would provide special prosecutors to help local district attorneys tackle large-scale drug trafficking and overdose cases. 

From stricter enforcement to eliminate supply and demand to substantial investments in treatment, recovery, and harm reduction services, North Carolina is well on its way in the fight against opioids and fentanyl. 

To keep the public informed on state action and resources, Stein’s office has put together a website. That can be found at NCOpioidSettlement.org.