Evidence Based Practices Center (EBP)Southern Regional Area Health Education Center’s North Carolina Evidence Based Practices (EBP) Center was one 12 community partners, statewide, awarded part of $1.5 million in grants to implement projects that combat the opioid crisis by advancing the goals of the NC Opioid Action Plan. Projects were selected competitively based on factors including the potential impact, the assessment of need, organizational sustainability, and evidence of collaboration and community support.

Governor Roy Cooper’s office announced recipients on Thursday, June 14, of the one-time, state-funded grants of up to $150,000 from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The grants enable partner organizations to implement activities in their community that improve access to harm reduction, treatment, and recovery supports. “Community efforts to turn the tide on the opioid crisis deserve our support,” Gov. Cooper said. “These grants are another example of the collaborative effort we need to fight opioid overdoses, save lives, and connect people to treatment statewide.”

Southern Regional AHEC’s North Carolina Evidence Based Practices Center, in partnership with Duke AHEC (in Durham) and Eastern AHEC (in Greenville), was awarded $107,261 to deliver the North Carolina certified peer-support training (40 hours curriculum) and 20 hours of relevant continuing education to three regional cohorts of peer support specialists. Its goal is to recruit 15 to 20 individuals per cohort, for a total of 60 individuals, in an effortto dramatically increase the number of certified peer support specialists in counties served by each AHEC region.

Additionally, this project will offer training on substance abuse disorders and medication assisted treatment. The program will be offered three times in the participating AHEC regions with the intention of recruiting 30-50 participants in each cohort from across the human services spectrum to include law enforcement, judicial systems, departments of social services, and educational institutions.

“These grants will provide local organizations with funding to make real changes in their communities,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD. “The overwhelming number of applications received shows there is significant need in communities across our state for funding and support to combat this epidemic.”

The NC Opioid Action Plan was launched in June 2017, with collaboration from stakeholders across the state. The plan identified key strategies to combat the opioid epidemic, including expanding treatment and recovery oriented systems of care, making naloxone widely available, and linking overdose survivors to care. For more information about the plan and efforts-to-date, visit ncdhhs.gov/opioid-epidemic.