N.C. gets $1.2 million in grants as it grapples with policies to combat opioid crisis

Rural areas in North Carolina will share $1.2 million in federal grant dollars to expand their response to the opioid epidemic, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announced this week.

Six separate hospitals or organizations will receive a $200,000grant:  Ashe Memorial Hospital in Jefferson, Coastal Horizons Center in Wilmington, North Carolina Quality Healthcare Alliance in Chapel Hill, Robeson Health Care Corporation in Pembroke, United Way of Rutherford County in Forest City, and Wilson Substance Abuse Coalition in Wilson.

“Many North Carolinians living in rural communities struggle to access opioid use disorder treatment due to a lack of providers and insurance funding for treatment,” said Kody H. Kinsley, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health & Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, in a written statement.

“This award will support our efforts to address these challenges and help individuals obtain treatment and move into recovery,” Kinsley said.

Six rural North Carolina communities will share $1.2 million in federal grant funds to strengthen and expand their response to opioid use disorder with increased planning; prevention; evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted treatment; and recovery service delivery.

The federal money will go toward evidence-based treatment, the department said — including prevention, medication-assisted treatment and recovery service delivery.

The grants come as North Carolina government continues to struggle with the direction of its policies to address the opioid crisis.

On Tuesday activists staged a “die in” demonstration outside of the North Carolina Governor’s mansion to urge Gov. Roy Cooper to veto House Bill 474, the “Death by Distribution” bill.

The bill, which has been passed by the legislature and is awaiting the governor’s signature or veto, expands prosecution for second degree murder when someone dies of an overdose. Critics say such laws disproportionately impact communities of color and further criminalizes those struggling with addiction, making them hesitant to call the police or 911 for help.

“The outcome of laws like HB474 is two lives lost instead of one — and a false appearance of retribution, justice and revenge,” said Louise Vincent, director of the North Carolina Survivors Union. “It will not reduce the number of overdoses and it will surely further the racial injustices of the drug war. At a time when communities across the country are trying to reduce the prison population, North Carolina shouldn’t be enacting a bill that would put more people who use drugs behind bars.”


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