County Holds Community Meeting to Explore Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic with National Settlement

angled view of the top of CMGC

​Mecklenburg County will receive more than $32 million over the next 18 years to find solutions to the opioid epidemic in our community. These funds are a part of the National Opioid Settlement, a historic $26 billion agreement that will bring critical support to help municipalities harmed by the opioid epidemic.  

On Thursday, Oct. 27, leaders will ask the community for input on how to spend the incoming funds. “Mecklenburg County has suffered for years through the opioid epidemic. It’s been a crisis for so many families. These funds will help us navigate a path forward and we absolutely want our community at the table to discuss those options and solutions,” said County Manager Dena R. Diorio.    The County is not alone in dealing with this crisis. In 2020 in North Carolina, more than nine people died each day as a result of a drug overdose. From 2000 to 2020, more than 28,000 North Carolinians died from a drug overdose. In Mecklenburg County, there was a 167% increase in opioid-related death rates.    At this meeting, County leaders, healthcare partners, providers, stakeholders, those with lived experience and others will convene to brainstorm and prioritize how the funds from the National Settlement can be used to address the opioid epidemic.  

Available strategies include:  

  • Evidence-based addiction treatment  

  • Recovery support services 

  • Recovery housing support 

  • Employment-related services 

  • Early intervention 

  • Naloxone distribution     

  • Post-overdose response teams 

  • Syringe service program 

  • Criminal justice diversion programs 

  • Addiction treatment for incarcerated persons 

  • Re-entry programs 

The meeting will include: 

  • A presentation from Dr. Travis Hales, assistant professor at the University of Charlotte School of Social Work on the context around the opioid epidemic 

  • An overview of Mecklenburg County’s situation from Lauren Kestner, associate director of Harm Services with the Center for Prevention Services 

  • Information on the opioid settlement and opportunities from Dena R. Diorio, County manager, Mecklenburg County 

  • A perspective of lived experience from Abby Schuette, a local attorney.  

Mecklenburg County staff will conduct an online survey and hold a public hearing to gain additional community participation. They will use the results, along with the work of the Substance Use Disorder Task Force to develop recommendations for the Board of Commissioners to consider at a future meeting. 

County commissioners, who will make the final decisions regarding funding, will consider these recommendations, establish a special revenue fund for settlement funds, and adopt a resolution authorizing strategies and funding amounts. 

The meeting is scheduled for Oct. 27, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Valerie C. Woodard Center, 3205 Freedom Drive, Charlotte. The meeting is open to the public and anyone interested can register here.