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The NC Department of Health and Human Services announced awards totaling $16 million for 20 entities across the state dedicated to expanding treatment services for opioid use disorder.

UNC Horizons, an internationally acclaimed substance use disorder program for women, was awarded $800,000 from the NC DHHS to continue its mission of expanding access to best evidence-based treatment options for women with substance use disorder. The comprehensive program, housed in the UNC Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has sites in Orange and Wake counties and includes women who are pregnant, as well as mothers with children.

UNC Horizons, which focuses on all aspects recovery – including residence and employment – was one of 20 healthcare centers, treatment clinics and providers to receive grants from the NC DHHS to expand evidence-based treatment services and supportive programs that individuals need during recovery.

The DHHS grant will fund a project titled EMPOWER (Engaging and Motivating: Preventing Overdoses among Women via Effective Re-entry), and it is led by Hendree Jones, Essence Hairston, Elisabeth Johnson, Kim Andringa and Andrea Knittel.

This program will provide re-entry services to 400 women leaving prison and focuses on these primary goals: prevent overdose death, improve financial stability and independence with employment, maintain drug abstinence, avoid recidivism, and increase social support.

The program team will engage women before prison release, meet them at the time of release, provide transportation, connect them to treatment services and other resources, and continue comprehensive case management services for six months to help improve their chances for success. Based on UNC Horizon’s success over many years, the program leaders are confident EMPOWER will have a significant impact on the lives of women and children over time and that the program holds great potential for helping break the intergenerational cycle of addiction.

In the NC DHHS press release, the department said, “these grants are made available as a result of a multi-state settlement with McKinsey & Company, resolving investigations into the company’s role in advising opioid companies on how to promote their drugs and profit from the opioid epidemic.”

The total amount of the company’s settlement with nearly all states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories was $573 million. It centered on promotion of the drug Oxycontin.

Accidental drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S. and North Carolina.  More than 28,000 North Carolinians died due to drug overdose between 2000 and 2020.

Read the entire NC DHHS press release, including a full list of the 20 grant recipients.

Read the original statement about the settlement from NC Attorney General Josh Stein.