Cumberland County using $500,000 in settlement money on opioid crisis

Monique John Image
Monday, February 5, 2024
Cumberland County using $500,000 in settlement money on opioid crisis
The county said its focus is on early intervention as many people continue to struggle with addiction and recovery efforts.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Cumberland County officials are looking for new ways to combat the opioid crisis. The county is distributing $500,000 to tackle addiction from a 2021 national settlement with pharmaceutical companies.

The NC Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) received $90,000 to address immediate needs.

"(W)e plan on expanding our syringe exchange program, Narcan distribution and overdose prevention activities..." said Charlton Roberson, the NCHRC Eastern Regional Coordinator.

Now, the county says its focus is on early intervention. NCHRC said that if given another grant, it would partly direct those funds to partnerships with law enforcement. Its objective is to improve police interactions with vulnerable people struggling with addiction.

ALSO SEE: Publicis Health agrees to $350M settlement over claims it helped fuel opioid crisis

"We are able to address those individuals and minimize their interaction with law enforcement and get them in," Roberson said. "Divert them into hopefully some type of treatment or some type of help."

The Myrover-Reese Fellowship Homes halfway house said that about a third of the people it helps annually struggle with opioids.

"We are really the only facility in Cumberland County that provides housing and we have used, really we're ahead of schedule in terms of using the funds because of how many people have come through," said Dixon Soffe Jr., the chairman of the Myrover-Reese Fellowship Homes Board of Directors.

In recovery himself, Soffe Jr. said he knows firsthand drug intervention's power in uplifting the community.

"We affect people so negatively when we are in active addiction, but when you are able to recover through a program like this, the same effect happens on the opposite end of the spectrum," Soffe Jr. said. "(Y)ou're able to impact your community, you're able to impact your employment and employer and family in a way that's really positive."