Opioid overdoses in Buncombe County are on the rise. From January through November, 2022, the County experienced 279 opioid overdose visits, up nearly 13% from the previous year.
Additionally, the County has experienced more than 2,500 911 calls dispatched as overdoses since November 2020.
To combat this epidemic, the county is inviting the public to help provide critical insight to help guide community resources to tackle the issue.
How you can help
Buncombe County is slated to get more than $16 million over the next 18 years from the Opioid Litigation Settlement. Your feedback on how to use this funding is vital in guiding how Buncombe County will use this money to bolster existing services while creating new grassroots resources to combat the opioid epidemic.
“Our community has the answers we need. Through community input, we can better prioritize the supports needed in our recommendations to the Commissioners for fiscal year 2024-2026,” explains Behavioral Health Manager Victoria Reichard.
“We have several services and resources currently available in Buncombe, but if there are barriers in accessing these services or the capacity does not meet the demand, we want to prioritize funds in order to reduce barriers and increase capacity. Or if we have a gap in our services, what support is needed to fill that gap.”
Buncombe County invites everyone to participate in the survey before the end of January: families of those affected, individuals with firsthand experience, and those working in the field to help others find their path to wellness.
Take the survey
Please consider taking a few minutes to complete the survey. It will take only about 10 minutes. Go to publicinput.com/buncombeopioidsettlement. Please respond by Jan. 31, 2023.
Ongoing services for opioid addiction
Currently the County offers the Community Paramedic initiative, which not only provides assistance and resources for those in need of treatment, but also helps reduce our jail population (and save the County money).
During 2022, when more than 700 emergency calls were addressed in the immediate aftermath of an overdose, paramedics were sent out to match services that could help provide a path of recovery.
“The Community Paramedic Team saved my life. Talking with people who have made it through addiction gave me the strength and hope to find recovery… I have now been sober almost one year,” says one anonymous beneficiary.
Moving forward with opioid settlement funding
Building on the success of pioneering programs like the Community Paramedics, the County wants to use the opioid settlement money to continue making a difference in the lives of those struggling with addiction.
“[A] number of leaders in the community … have worked to address the impact of opioids in our community … long before there was ever money from a settlement. Now that there are dollars specifically to address the opioid epidemic, Buncombe County has been working to develop a strategic plan for the next three years with the help of the Opioid Steering Committee,” explains Reichard.
The Opioid Steering Committee consists of various community stakeholders and has established the following vision statement:
“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.”
Local resources for opioid addiction
Medication Take Back programs are offered at the following locations:
- In the Asheville Police Department lobby
- All participating CVS and Walgreens locations
Syringe Exchange Drop-In Center: 40 Coxe Ave. in Asheville, open Monday-Friday, noon-4 p.m.
Holler Harm Reduction: (828) 290-9066; hollerharmreduction.org.