JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Onslow County commissioners have approved a partnership for the detention center to address the opioid crisis.

Now, Southern Health Partners is hoping to help reduce the risk of overdoses in our area. As of right now, Southern Health Partners already assists with mental health treatment in the Onslow County jail, and now will also help with those who struggle with addiction.

The opioid crisis is not only a nationwide issue but also an area of concern within our county.

“Our overdose rate in Onslow County is painfully high, and we don’t want to lose more citizens,” said Assistant County Manager Sheri Slater.

To help get ahead of the issue, people in the detention center can work with case managers on-site.

“To mitigate the risk of overdose for persons with opioid use disorder after release, decrease recidivism, and reduce costs by utilizing a comprehensive drug treatment program within the jail system,” said Col. Shawn George with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.

Slater added they hope to see residents not fall back into familiar patterns.

“If we send them back out with the same problems to the same address, they’re likely to be in the same situation again, very quickly,” said Slater.

George said that Southern Health Partners will report monthly on how effective the program is.

“We have individuals that come into our facility, unfortunately, that are addicted. So it’s an opportunity for the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, Onslow County in general, to bridge the gap between dependency to a place, maybe long-term care in the future,” said George.

The contract will run until 2025.

With the commissioners’ approval, officials with the Sheriff’s Office add they hope to address the opioid issues with Southern Health Partners as quickly as possible.