North Carolina counties got nearly $2.5 million dollars in federal grants for drug courts and treatment. These are part of the $320 million the Department of Justice awarded across the country.
Last year, an estimated 72,000 people died from drug overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control reported North Carolina has been among the hardest hit. Preliminary numbers show deaths from overdoses in 2017 increased by 22.5 percent from the previous year. It’s the second highest rate in the country.
In a statement Tuesday, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina Andrew Murray said the solution to the opioid crisis is "not going to be quick or easy."
"To reverse this deadly trend," he said, "We have to implement a holistic, sustained and concerted effort, focusing on law enforcement action, treatment accessibility and community education and outreach."
These grants will go to drug court programs in Burke and Buncombe Counties. Buncombe County also was awarded nearly $299,644 to enhance veterans’ treatment courts. The Jackson County Sheriff’s office will also get $256,795 to help with treatment.
Gaston County will get $708,279 to create a therapeutic center for kids who are in foster care because their parents or guardians are in the court system for drug-related offenses. The space will be donated by a local church, and the center will help provide therapy for kids who have neither Medicaid nor private insurance.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee will also get $713,000 for programs to reduce drug abuse, increase access to treatment and hire staff.