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Burke County was recently awarded a $600,000 grant to combat opioid addiction.

The Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs has announced that more than $3.5 million of $333 million designated to help communities affected by the opioid crisis will help public safety and public health professionals in the western district of North Carolina to combat substance abuse and respond effectively to overdoses.

“Opioid abuse and addiction are rampant nationwide, and unfortunately, Western North Carolina is not immune from this national epidemic. Federal funding provided by the Justice Department to counties in this district will go a long way toward providing much-needed services to the communities hardest hit by the widespread abuse of opioids,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Murray.

The grant was submitted by Burke County for its HARBOUR-LEAD project proposal, said Lisa Moore, health education supervisor and health promotion coordinator for the Burke County Health Department.

Moore said the HARBOUR (Helping Achieve Recovery through Burke Opioid Use Reduction) -LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program will provide funding for three years to continue the current LEAD program within Burke County and add the HARBOUR program which will be led by Burke Recovery in conjunction with integral community partners.

LEAD is a voluntary pre-booking diversion program developed to help low level offenders whose behaviors are directly linked to substance use to be redirected to community-based treatment and recovery support services instead of jail and prosecution, Moore said.

The HARBOUR program offers a daily schedule of treatment and recovery services with medical interventions. The weekly program provides co-ed and gender specific group sessions, along with individual training time, vocational training and guest speakers from partner agencies. The program will be facilitated within Burke United Christian Ministries through a social worker and LEAD coordinator working together to determine what resources each client will need in order to successfully adhere to their schedule including, but not limited to, housing, employment and vocational skills, Moore said.

Moore said the HARBOUR-LEAD project will have positive impacts in the reduction of costs to the community by:

» Diverting individuals from the judicial system to community-based treatment;

» Securing appropriate referrals to social services and medical systems through intensive case management;

» Mitigating harm reduction through strategies to reduce overdose deaths, spread of communicable diseases, etc;

» Opportunity to reduce the incidences of property crime within Burke County.

The awards announced support an array of activities designed to reduce the harm inflicted by these dangerous drugs. Grants will help law enforcement officers, emergency responders and treatment professionals coordinate their response to overdoses.

Funds will also provide services for children and youth affected by the crisis and will support the nationwide network of drug and treatment courts, according to the Department of Justice.

Other awards will address prescription drug abuse, expand the capacity of forensic labs and support opioid-related research, it says.

In addition to Burke County’s grant, the DOJ grants in the western district of North Carolina, totaling $3,555,478, are:

» Catawba County — $500,000.

» Rutherford County — $600,000.

» Buncombe County Health and Human Services — $878,803.

» Appalachian District Health Department — $551,257.

» Cleveland County Health Department — $425,418.

“The opioid crisis has destroyed far too many lives and left too many Americans feeling helpless and hopeless,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Katharine T. Sullivan. “This epidemic — the most deadly in our nation’s history — is introducing new dangers and loading public health responsibilities onto the public safety duties of our law enforcement officers. The Department of Justice is here to support them during this unprecedented and extremely challenging time.”

With more than 130 people dying from opioid-related overdoses every day, the Department of Justice has made fighting addiction to opioids — including heroin and fentanyl — a national priority. The funding is for a wide range of activities — from preventive services and comprehensive treatment to recovery assistance, forensic science services and research — to help save lives and break the cycle of addiction and crime, according to the Department of Justice.

For more information about OJP awards, visit the OJP Awards Data webpage.

The Office of Justice Programs, directed by Sullivan, provides federal leadership, grants, training and technical assistance, and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, assist victims and enhance the rule of law by strengthening the criminal and juvenile justice systems. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.

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