The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today released a request for applications to fund up to $10.6 million in community-based projects to prevent opioid overdoses for people who are involved in the justice system.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly difficult for people who struggle with substance use disorders, and this funding will help us reduce overdoses in our state," Governor Roy Cooper said. "These programs can make a big difference, but we know that the best way to ensure people without coverage can get the treatment they need is expanding Medicaid to more than half a million working North Carolinians.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina has seen a resurgence in another epidemic — the opioid overdose crisis. Since March, North Carolina has seen a 24% increase in emergency department visits for opioid overdoses. Individuals exiting incarceration with substance use disorder are particularly vulnerable to an overdose. According to data prior to the pandemic, formerly incarcerated individuals are 40 times more likely than other North Carolinians to die of an overdose in the first two weeks of re-entering the community. For many residents, COVID-19 has further complicated navigating returning to their community from prisons or jails, as many service providers have shifted the way they operate or now have limited services or hours.
Connecting a person to evidenced based addiction treatment, either before they are incarcerated or once they are leaving jail or prison and re-entering the community, can prevent overdoses and reduce a return to incarceration.This funding opportunity will advance key strategies in the Opioid Action Plan to address the needs of people involved in the justice system, while alleviating pressure on jails and prisons across North Carolina during the COVID-19 pandemic. Community-based organizations, local law enforcement agencies, substance use disorder treatment providers, and others, may apply for grants of up to $350,000 per year for two years to:
- Create and expand pre- and post-arrest programs to divert people with substance use disorders from jail to appropriate treatment options,
- Create re-entry programs that help connect people to care upon release from incarceration
The grant will additionally award one technical assistance provider to advise and support statewide justice-involved overdose prevention initiatives, and foster peer to peer learning between groups awarded through this grant.
“Substance use disorder is a disease; treatment works and not only saves lives, but reduces recidivism, supports families, and contributes to the economy — it’s simply the right thing to do,” said Kody H. Kinsley, Deputy Secretary for Behavioral Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
This funding opportunity is the first of two RFAs that will fund programs to support justice-involved initiatives. A second RFA will be released in January 2021, which will fund complementary programs. For more information visit this DHHS page.