Pender County is actively addressing the pressing issue of opioid use within the community.
The Pender County Opioid Prevention Task Force has begun a series of community meetings so that residents can share their perspectives and suggestions, and collaborate on how local funding can be put to use to combat the crisis.
Local Efforts to Combat Opioid Use
Last year, Pender County Government, through its Substance Use Prevention Partnership (SUPP), resumed regular committee meetings to address substance use prevention. Comprised of various public agency leaders, SUPP aims to raise awareness about substance use and addiction, enhance provider knowledge of recommended policies and procedures, reduce substance use and opioid overdoses, and promote awareness of available community resources.
The partnership closely monitors data, assesses county resources, and identifies unmet needs. Notably, opioid abuse has seen a slight increase over the past year, attributed in part to limited socialization options during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the National Opioid Epidemic
Recognizing the significance of the opioid crisis, North Carolina has developed strategies for counties to address this issue. Pender County is actively working with residents and leadership at a state and national level to develop a strong response plan by engaging community stakeholders in these public sessions.
The primary objective of the Task Force’s work is to identify effective prevention strategies and programs that will benefit the residents of Pender County.
The funds allocated for these initiatives come from a national opioid settlement involving pharmaceutical companies. Specifically, the settlement includes a $26 billion agreement with Johnson & Johnson, as well as three distributors: Amerisource Bergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson. Additional smaller settlements began contributing to the County’s efforts earlier this year, and several more are expected to follow.
Community Meetings: Engaging the Residents
The first community meeting took place yesterday, May 22, at the Surf City Council Chambers in Hampstead. It focused on discussing programs and strategies for utilizing the settlement funds effectively.
Two upcoming meetings are also scheduled to take place:
Wednesday, May 24, 2023 – 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
15060 Highway 17, Hampstead NC 28443
Thursday, June 1, 2023 – 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
N.C. Cooperative Extension – Pender County Center
801 S Walker Street, Burgaw NC 28425
Positive Trends: Decrease in Overdose Deaths
According to Carolyn Moser, the Director of Pender County Health & Human Services, there were 27 overdose-related deaths in 2021. This most recent data suggest a decrease in overdose deaths in 2022, reflecting a potentially positive trend that mimics national trends.
The county continues to review and analyze data to gain further insights into these improvements.
For additional information, please contact the Pender County Health Department Health Educators at (910) 259-0619.