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Substance Use Disorder

More than 50,000 people in WNC struggle with Substance Use Disorder and almost half (47.4%) of adults living in the region report that their lives have been negatively affected by substance misuse (by self or someone else). Overdoses claim the lives of more than 200 WNC residents annually. 
 
Upon its creation, Dogwood Health Trust committed to providing $5 million per year for five years for the purpose of funding programs and services dedicated to addressing substance use disorder for residents of Western North Carolina in conjunction with programs of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. In 2020, Dogwood granted $5 million in work to address substance use disorder in 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in WNC. By targeting opportunities already based within these counties and supporting work that is locally driven, we are seeing early wins. 

Investment

 $5 million per year

Goal

  • Increase access to behavioral health and substance use prevention and treatment services. 

Objectives

  • Reduce opioid overdose mortality throughout the region
  • Reduce untreated behavioral health and substance use disorder in populations that have been disproportionately impacted due to disparities such as systemic racism, lack of equitable access, etc.
  • Prevent and reduce behavioral health issues and substance use (tobacco, alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs) in youth ages 3-18 throughout WNC
2 dogwood flowers stacks with leaves branching out

Partner Highlights

Buncombe County Post-Overdose Response Team

Western Carolina Pacesetters

Madison County Health Department MAT Support

Rutherford County United Way/Voices of Affrilachia

ALFA (Advancing Life. Fighting AIDS)

Diversion Pilot Program Henderson County

Paramedics talking to a man

Buncombe County Post-Overdose Response Team

The Buncombe County Post Overdose Response Team (PORT) addresses critical gaps in care for substance use and other medically-assisted treatment (MAT) programs in Asheville. A diverse mix of professionals makes up the team, including community paramedics, peer support specialists, mental health clinicians and program managers. By partnering with Dogwood, the PORT expanded its services to provide mobile Suboxone administration twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and a front-line bridge to care, providing medications to keep patients compliant with their opioid recovery until they can be seen by their regular providers or resume their recovery program.

Western Carolina Pacesetters

Western Carolina Pacesetters provides Southern Appalachia’s youth with the opportunity to challenge themselves through unique experiential and outdoor activities that focus on interpersonal skill development, adventure and teamwork. Western Carolina Pacesetters partnered with Dogwood to expand its reach to court-involved youth and youth identified as at-risk for potential substance misuse, inspiring them to become more resilient, aware and responsible members of the community.

Madison County Health Department MAT Support

Madison County Health Department was one of the first rural health departments in WNC to offer medically-assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals with opioid use disorder. By partnering with Dogwood, the department extended its medications for opioid use disorder and MAT programs to uninsured individuals, communities of color, survivors of intimate partner violence, disaster victims, those with physical and economic challenges, those experiencing homelessness, immigrants, members of the LGBTQIA community and veterans in Madison, Yancey and Buncombe counties.

Philip Cooper

Rutherford County United Way/Voices of Affrilachia

Dogwood partnered with Change Agent Phillip Cooper and the Rutherford County United Way to create an event called “Voices of Affrilachia,” featuring listening sessions and site visits between NC DHHS officials and BIPOC community leaders in WNC to create culturally sensitive mental health and SUD services in WNC. As a direct result of the “Voices of Affrilachia” project, United Way of Rutherford County and Cooper partnered on a larger, short-term project funded by NC DHHS in collaboration with Partners Behavioral Health. The program, named “Project Urgent Need,” served people with severe mental illness or co-occurring disorders. Cooper led a team of peer support specialists, providing housing assistance and follow-up peer support to 170 people in WNC and Catawba and Cleveland counties. Other team members distributed Narcan across a seven-county footprint. From their efforts, project leaders have been notified of six lives saved from overdoses.

AIDS and STI Testing van and table

ALFA (Advancing Life. Fighting AIDS)

In 2018, ALFA started the Foothills Area Harm Reduction Mission (the Farm). It began distributing syringes, injection supplies, naloxone and other items and services to reduce drug use harm. The need has grown, especially in Burke County. In 2020, despite COVID-19 restrictions that limited mobile services, the Farm provided 400 services to Burke County residents. Staff also provide educational and HIV/HepC screening services at several Burke organizations, including the correctional facility. The need for syringe access, harm reduction services and a link to HepC/HIV care in Burke County is great, and Dogwood has partnered with the Farm to support their work in this area.

Diversion Pilot Program Henderson County

Dogwood supports the law enforcement-assisted Diversion Pilot Program in Henderson County as it works to lessen juvenile justice involvement as a means of reducing risk factors related to substance use disorder. The Hope Coalition is partnering with the Henderson County Sheriff’s Department and the district attorney’s office to deliver the program. In the program, participants identify their strengths, define goals and learn skills to prevent the recurrence of involvement in the justice system as well as connect with the appropriate resources. Services include a drug and alcohol education program and a juvenile alternatives program that focuses on early intervention for at-risk youth.