JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As part of the national opioid settlement – North Carolina is getting $750 million from the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors

The money from this lawsuit has already begun flowing into state and local governments, including Onslow County, which is getting $10 million.  

According to county officials, 62 people died from overdoses in the county last year. This year, there have been eight so far. This money is a beacon of hope to help fight the ongoing issue of substance abuse in the community.  

“There aren’t many people now who haven’t been affected or touched by opioids. If you talk to folks, they know someone who overdosed, they’ve overdosed before, or they know someone who has been addicted and has been at risk for an overdose,” said Assistant County Manager Sheri Slater. 

Slater added the opioid crisis has become something the entire community is battling. 

“Part of the reason we were awarded this settlement is because of the number of overdoses we’ve had here, and the impact that the opioid crisis has had on our community,” said Slater.  

So, now that they’re getting this money, what’s their plan of action? They want to address different issues present in the community and come up with strategic plans to tackle them. 

“The trick for our community then is just to figure out which things are we missing. Where are the gaps in Onslow County? And how can we best fill those gaps so that we don’t lose people,” said Slater.  

Right now, there’s the Dix Crisis Center in Jacksonville, which provides urgent care for those who may need it. But one of the counties’ biggest concerns is the lack of a long-term care facility in the area.  

“We don’t have any long-term care facilities here in Onslow County. So, our folks who need more long-term care have to go out of the county, there are some a couple of hours away,” said Slater.  

They will receive the $10 million in payments over the next 18 years. Slater said they’re ready to get the ball rolling. 

“We have to be intentional and very strategic and how we’re going to use that money so that we make sure that it’s actually filling gaps in our community, that we can meet the needs of the crisis and actually make a positive impact,” said Slater.  

Slater adds they will have strategic planning sessions over the summer with different stakeholders to determine what they will recommend to county commissioners on what exactly will be funded with the settlement money.