The rising number of opioid overdose deaths has created a public health crisis in North Carolina. Could new state-funded grants, designed to fight the opioid epidemic in our state, empower organizations to better the crisis in their communities?
By the deadline of May 4, organizations across NC can apply for one of the 10 to 20 one-time state-funded grants of up to $150,000, NC Health News reports.
NC Health News continues:
“These grants aim to advance the goals set in the state’s Opioid Action Plan, rolled out during a conference last summer.” The goal is to “help local communities work together to turn the tide of the opioid crisis through treatment and recovery assistance.”
Before we get into the details, let’s backtrack. Some context on the opioid crisis in NC:
NC and Opioids
From 1999 to 2016, more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdoses, according to the NC DHHS: “This epidemic is devastating families and communities. It is overwhelming medical providers and is straining prevention and treatment efforts.”
The agency’s February 2018 opioid surveillance ED data reveals some recent trends.
In February 2018 alone, North Carolina saw 397 opioid overdose ED visits. Opioid overdose cases include poisonings with opium, heroin, opioids, methadone and other synthetic narcotics. By county, the highest rates of these visits were in Mecklenburg County (37 visits), Cumberland County (27 visits) and Durham and Forsyth counties (20 visits each).
Back to the grants. Here are the details.
Who can apply?
Applications are open to any group or agency with a project that “supports community activities that improve access to treatment and recovery supports,” according to DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen. The Request For Application (RFA) form outlines everything needed to request a grant.
Eligible applicants can include (but are not limited to):
- Community organizations
- Health departments
- Social services agencies
- County corrections departments
- Emergency medical services
- “Other organizations that have a history of work in population health, substance-use disorder prevention, treatment or recovery services and harm reduction”
Taking a look back at the Opioid Action Plan announced by Governor Roy Cooper in July 2017 could help groups focus their applications.
A recap of NC’s Opioid Action Plan
North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan, to be in effect for years 2017–2021, is defined as a “living document” aimed at fighting the opioid crisis in NC. Last year, Governor Cooper defined the document as “flexible,” able to be updated as we make progress on the epidemic and are faced with new issues and solutions.
According to the NC DHHS, focus areas of the plan include:
- Coordinating the state’s infrastructure to tackle the opioid crisis
- Reducing the oversupply of prescription opioids
- Reducing the diversion of prescription drugs and the flow of illicit drugs
- Increasing community awareness and prevention
- Making naloxone widely available and linking overdose survivors to care
- Expanding treatment and recovery-oriented systems of care
- Measuring the impact/effectiveness of these strategies based on results and revising them as necessary
Could these grants empower North Carolinians to better the opioid crisis in their communities? Do we think the grants will be effective? If you could work with an organization to secure monetary support to battle the opioid crisis, what would you do with the funds? We look forward to hearing from you.