Opioid Settlement Funds Create a Platform for Connection and Recovery
The Buncombe County Opioid Settlement Overview and Discussion was held on Thursday, May 18. Community partners gathered to focus on substance use disorder and overdose deaths due to opioids and learn about the progress of the Opioid Settlement Steering Committee.
This committee began its work in September 2022 in an effort to organize how to use the Opioid Settlement funds awarded to Buncombe County. The number of fatal overdose deaths in Buncombe County has remained consistently higher than the NC average since 2017.
Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara notes that this is a significant shift towards action in the opioid response. Of this shift, she says, “This moment in particular is so critical because we are embarking on a new phase in this work fueled by the opioid settlement money that will enable us scale programs that have been launched as nimble innovative pilots that have shown great efficacy and are now ready for the next phase of work.”
This planning process was conducted with a steering committee of multidisciplinary partners from over 40 community organizations, County departments, law enforcement agencies, peer support specialists, those with lived experience, treatment providers, and social service providers. The vision statement of the steering committee reflects the array of stakeholder perspectives: “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.”
Highlights of the report include:
- Results of the 31 feedback sessions with proximate stakeholders including treatment and social service providers, court system partners, first responders and harm reduction agencies.
- Over 1,100 surveys from community members
- Shared vision and goals.
- Recommended strategies, summary, and definition of associated key indicators, goals, and specific measures for assessing progress toward the 2038 shared vision.
Priorities on data coordination, collaboration, and people-centered services are key themes throughout the recommendations. Victoria Reichard, Behavioral Health Manager, stated “The purpose of these funds are to support services and programs for those with substance use disorder or co-occurring health issues and substance use disorder. Understanding the gaps in resources and barriers to access is key to building a platform for recovery. There are many people that stand in the gap of resources and services, and so many lives have been saved by people who bridge that gap. We want to thank everyone involved in this process.”
Community partners are committed to supporting this work through an emphasis on coordination, communication, and data-informed decision making across public safety and public health infrastructure. Visit the Opioid Settlement Public Engagement Page for more information on this process. The full report is attached.