RALEIGH, N.C. — More than 100,000 people across the country died from drug overdoses in 2021 and the numbers are concerning.
Wake County health officials reported almost 200 people died from an overdose in the county last year.
Now, the National Opioid Settlement is giving $35 million over 18 years to Wake County officials to combat the crisis.
Everyone at the Wake County Commons Building on Tuesday had their reasons for being there: reasons to come together and brainstorm how to use those funds to fight against the opioid crisis.
“I struggled with substance abuse disorder for a really long time,” said Megan Peevey.
“I lost my granddaughter who I raised… she was doing cocaine and she got pure fentanyl,” said Sharon Sandstorm.
It took Peevey overdosing in a McDonald’s bathroom to get to the podium and share her story and the struggles of so many others.
“Everyone is worth saving,” she told CBS 17.
In Wake County, there were more than 1,000 emergency room visits for drug overdoses in 2021.
74 percent of Wake County drug-related deaths involved illicit opioids like heroin.
“Those people didn’t have to die,” said Peevey. “If they had access to treatment and connection and community and recover, maybe they would be alive.”
The 250 people at the meeting were able to give their input on how to spend the funds.
“It’s a huge problem,” said Wake County Commissioner Chair, Sig Hutchinson. “The curve has just spiked. This is something we’ve got to get our heads around. This is only the first step, but we’ve got to start somewhere.”
This fall, $4 million will go to one of 11 areas of focus, which include early intervention, criminal justice diversions, syringe services or recovery support.
The ultimate goal is to save as many lives as possible.
“With proper treatment, there’s a 60% chance an addict can stay clean. Without treatment there’s a 10% chance,” added Hutchinson.
Once a decision is made on where to spend the first round of funds, county commissioners need to give their final approval.
There is an online survey where the public can vote for their priorities to combat the opioid crisis. It is active until Friday, August 5 at 5 p.m.