To county struggling with overdoses, settlement money a lifeline

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – A settlement from the national opioid lawsuit will benefit one Eastern Carolina county experiencing an uptick in overdoses.

Onslow County’s government says it will get $10 million that will come over the next 25 years as part of the $26 billion landmark opioid settlement.

The county reported ten overdoses in the past week resulting in four deaths.

“That’s a number that’s completely unacceptable to us here in Onslow County,” Sheri Slater, assistant county manager said.

Slater says county EMS responded to nearly 1,400 overdose calls last year, 589 of which were from the use of opioids.

But now, the county sits on the receiving end of a $26 billion landmark pharmaceutical lawsuit on J&J distributors.

“As a part of that settlement, Onslow County received just over $10 million in funds that will be dispersed through 2038,” Slater says.

The county says a portion of the funds will go toward its Strategic Opioid Advance Response (SOAR) team, which will benefit the expansion of programs like the community Paramedics Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT Program.

“Last fiscal year we had 100% success rate of working with individuals by providing that medication-assisted treatment and then having them successfully join in for ongoing treatment and services,” Cami Fletcher, Onslow County Community Paramedic Program manager said.

For the county, a change must come to prevent the repeating of recent events.

“This is a really excellent opportunity to take advantage of the gaps that we have and making those stronger,” Fletcher said.

To better improve the continuity of treatment resources, the county says it will look to purchase longterm treatment facilities for addicts to participate in evidence-based treatments for opioid addiction.