BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) — The Carteret County Health Department is launching a new initiative to address the ongoing substance use crisis in the county.
Made possible through funding from resources from the NC Department of Justice and the endorsement of the Carteret County Board of Commissioners, the Post-Overdose Response Team (PORT) will officially launch on August 26. This program aims to provide support to individuals who have experienced an overdose, are at risk of overdosing, or are family or friends of someone engaged in the battle against addiction.
Under the PORT program, certified peer support specialists will collaborate closely with county EMS, law enforcement, social services and the local emergency department. It’s an effort to reach out within 72 hours to individuals who have experienced an overdose or have been resuscitated using naloxone.
These peer support specialists will engage with the affected individuals and their support networks to offer comprehensive information about available care resources. Additionally, the team will also offer help to those who have recently been released from detention and are seeking support as they become a part of the community again.
A cornerstone of the PORT program is the distribution of naloxone (Narcan) kits, the drug that can reverse an overdose quickly and is used to prevent overdose death. These kits will be provided to those who show a need, such as someone who has a history of overdoses or to a family member or friend of someone who’s using drugs. In conjunction with this harm reduction strategy, peer support specialists will engage with qualified individuals and their family members to establish connections to suitable care, provide overdose education about addiction, and partner with stakeholders in the opioid response to reduce overdose mortality. Beyond their immediate service role, the peer support specialists will gather data about the experiences of the people they serve. This data will play a pivotal in shaping efforts toward improving services and resources in Carteret County.
“The Carteret County Health Department is proud to collaborate with the county on this impactful and transformative program,” said Consolidated Human Services Director Dr. Randall Williams. “Within our community, we’ve long understood the immense harm that substance use disorder can inflict on individuals, families, and communities. This program holds greater importance today than ever before. We eagerly anticipate making a difference in people’s lives and potentially saving them through the many partnerships and active involvement of our dedicated PORT peer support specialists.”
The launch of the PORT program coincides with International Overdose Awareness Day, observed globally on August 31. This solemn day is the world’s largest annual campaign to end overdose, remember without stigma those who have died from an overdose and acknowledge the grief of the family and friends left behind. Citizens can show support for the PORT program by wearing the color purple on August 31 to remind everyone that every life is precious and to encourage open and honest talks about substance use. Since 2020, Carteret County had 116 overdose deaths that impacted the community.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance use, contact the Carteret County PORT program at (252) 247-1129 or email postODteam@carteretcountync.gov. For more information about the team, contact team navigator manager Brooke Barnhill of the Carteret County Health Department at (252) 728-8550 or visit www.carteretcountync.gov/2259/Carteret-CARES.