Opioid use and abuse can lead to arrests and penalties, but it’s important to remember that opioid abuse and addiction is a medical condition. In nearby Wilmington, millions of dollars could be used to prevent and treat addiction in that community and beyond thanks to a large settlement with Johnson & Johnson, McKesson and Cardinal Health.
Per the settlement, which reached the news on August 3, the company will pay around $850 million to the state as a whole. Of that, around 80% will be used by local governments to address the opioid epidemic around the state.
Prevention and treatment is the cure for the opioid crisis
With better prevention and treatment for those with substance use disorders, it’s possible to give people a way to move forward more healthily.
The funds do have to be used in accordance with government requirements. Part of this money could be used on reentry programs for recently incarcerated people who used opioids. The money can also be distributed to create or make better criminal justice diversion programs in the state. It may also be used to provide addiction treatment to those who have been incarcerated in North Carolina.
The local governments may also choose to use the funds, as long as they participate in the collaborative strategic planning process, to address the needs of those in the criminal justice system who have opioid use disorder and to support first responders.
At its core, the opioid crisis is a medical crisis. With this funding, it may be possible to help those with addictions overcome them and any criminal charges or penalties that they have faced as a result. Until then, those accused of opioid-related and prescription drug crimes should still focus on a strong defense, so they can protect their rights.