Mecklenburg County discusses plans for opioid settlement funds

Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners discussed spending plans for the national and historic opioid settlement funds on Tuesday evening. 

$72.7 million in opioid settlement funds will be distributed to Mecklenburg County over the next 18 years, from 2022 to 2038. 

The monumental sum is comprised of two separate and concurrent settlements.

$32.4 million — known as “Wave 1” — from the July 2021 settlements with the three largest drug distributors: McKesson, Cardinal Health and manufacturers Johnson & Johnson. Mecklenburg County has already begun to receive funding from these settlements. 

“Wave 2” is a total of $25.9 million from the November – December 2022 settlements with pharmaceutical companies such as Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart. These settlement funds are expected to be received later this year.

Mecklenburg County will also receive Charlotte’s allocation of  $14.4 million from both waves of the settlements.

Robert Nesbit, Chief of Staff at Consolidated Human Services Agency, said an annual average of $4 million will be spent, however, exact amounts will vary by year.

“This is just the first initial bit of funding,” Nesbit said. “As we see the need, say we see there’s even a much greater need for naloxone resources, we can adjust.” 

A total of $10.915 million out of the $32.4 million from the first wave of funding is planned to be used immediately throughout June 30, 2025. This funding will go towards three specific areas: 

  • $540,000 to increase local harm reduction efforts by expanding Mecklenburg County’s partnership with Queen City Harm Reduction and ensuring access to an adequate supply of naloxone.
  • $4 million to expand services for uninsured and underinsured people through a partnership with Alliance Health.
  • $6 million will be allocated toward community applications supporting the following: early intervention, evidence-based addiction treatment, recovery support services, recovery housing support and employment-related services. 

Community applications will open on July 15 and close on August 15 this year.

Public information sessions will be announced soon, according to Nesbit. 

The rest of the settlement funds are planned to support the following programs: 

  • Syringe Services Programs: $210,000 
  • Naloxone Distribution: $330,000
  • Employment-Related Services: $525,000 
  • Recovery Support Services: $2 million 
  • Early Intervention: $2.25 million 
  • Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment, including Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT) programs: $2.25 million 
  • Recovery Housing Support: $3 million

$350,000 will go toward Collaborative Strategic Planning, which includes hiring a new staff member in the County Manager’s Office to support the implementation of funds.

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