The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is distributing grants of up to $150,000 to support community projects that fight the opioid crisis.
The N.C. Opioid Action Plan seeks to prevent or treat opioid addiction, limit overdoses, and reduce the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, according to Dr. Susan Kansagra.
Kansagra said needle exchanges are one type of intervention that limits harm among people who use intravenous drugs.
“Not only are they proven in reducing communicable disease risk, but they also open the doors to have additional conversation with this population that's hard to reach,” she said. “So that also includes conversations around naloxone and increasing access to those individuals. And it also includes conversations around treatment and recovery.”
Organizations, municipalities and businesses have until May 4 to apply for grants.
Kansagra said projects should align with the goals of the state's Opioid Action Plan. These can include efforts to prevent or treat opioid addiction, limit overdoses, or reduce the spread of communicable diseases.
“Through syringe exchange programs that we have in North Carolina, there's been over 3,000 referrals to treatment and recovery supports,” she said. “This is a strategy that engages people and moves them on the path to treatment and recovery if they're ready for it.”
Grants will go to as many as 20 community projects. Grant recipients will be announced in June.