This news item expired on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 so the information below could be outdated or incorrect.
Opioid overdoses in Buncombe County are on the rise. In 2022 (January-November), the County experienced 279 opioid overdose visits, up nearly 13% from the previous year. Additionally, the County has experienced more than 2,500 911 calls dispatched as overdoses since November 2020. As Buncombe County continues to respond to the opioid epidemic, we know our community can provide critical insight to help guide community resources that can tackle the issue head-on.
How you can help
Buncombe County is slated to get more than $16 million over the next 18 years from the Opioid Litigation Settlement, and the County wants your feedback on how to use this funding. Please consider taking a few minutes to complete this survey. Your responses are vital to how Buncombe County will use the settlement money to bolster existing services while creating new grassroots resources to combat the opioid epidemic. “Our community has the answers we need. Through community input, we can better prioritize the supports needed in our recommendations to the Commissioners for fiscal year 2024-2026,” explains Behavioral Health Manager Victoria Reichard. “We have several services and resources currently available in Buncombe, but if there are barriers in accessing these services or the capacity does not meet the demand, we want to prioritize funds in order to reduce barriers and increase capacity. Or if we have a gap in our services, what support is needed to fill that gap.”
Buncombe County welcomes everyone to participate in the survey before the end of January. “We want to hear from the family member who has seen their loved one struggle to get the support they needed. We want to hear from the individual who knows firsthand what they need for their wellness right now. We want to hear from those who are working in the field and helping others find their path to wellness,” says Reichard.
Take the survey
The survey will only take about 10 minutes, but your responses are invaluable as they will inform the County about how to best make decisions about funding and community-based resources in our response to the opioid epidemic. Take the survey here. While the County will continue its outreach efforts throughout the course of the opioid settlement funding, we ask you respond to the survey by Jan. 31.
Ongoing services for opioid addiction
Buncombe County has been on the forefront of responding to the opioid epidemic for years, and this new revenue stream will help to continue this important and lifesaving work. The Community Paramedic initiative is not only providing vital assistance and resources for those in need of treatment, but also helping reduce our jail population and save the County money. In 2022 (January-November), Community Paramedics responded to more than 700 overdose calls. By working with people in the immediate aftermath of an overdose, they are able to provide resources to help those people by meeting them where they are and matching services to help provide a path of recovery. “The Community Paramedic Team saved my life. Talking with people who have made it through addiction gave me the strength and hope to find recovery… I have now been sober almost one year,” exclaims an anonymous participant who utilized the Community Paramedics’ resources.
Moving forward with opioid settlement funding
Building on the success of pioneering programs like the Community Paramedics, Buncombe County wants to use the opioid settlement money to continue making a difference in the lives of those struggling with addiction. “We are fortunate to have a number of leaders in the community who have worked to address the impact of opioids in our community and to save lives, long before there was ever money from a settlement. Now that there are dollars specifically to address the opioid epidemic, Buncombe County has been working to develop a strategic plan for the next three years with the help of the Opioid Steering Committee,” explains Reichard.
This committee consists of various community stakeholders and has established the following vision statement: “Buncombe County is a community where substance use recovery is characterized by timely and coordinated holistic care centered in empathy, cultural responsiveness, and evidence-based methods from prevention to long-term recovery.”
Please help us continue to make this a reality by taking our short survey. We thank you in advance for your time and insights.
Take the survey.
Local resources for opioid addiction
If you or someone you know is interested in substance use-related resources, please be aware of the following groups and organizations here in Buncombe County that may be able to help: