Gov. Roy Cooper announces $31M grant to fight against opioid crisis in NC

FILE- In this Dec. 15, 2016 file photo, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper holds a press conference in Raleigh, N.C. North Carolina Republican lawmakers said Wednesday night, March 29, 2017, that they have an agreement with Gov. Cooper on legislation to resolve a standoff over the state's "bathroom bill." GOP leaders announced the new legislation would be debated and voted on Thursday. (Chris Seward/The News & Observer via AP, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY/WNCN) — More help is on the way in the fight against the opioid crisis in North Carolina.

Between 2005 and 2015, the state saw a 73 percent increase in opioid-related deaths. Opioid overdose also claimed the lives of more than 13,000 North Carolinians between 1999 and 2015, and four North Carolina cities rank among the nation’s worst for opioid abuse.

On Thursday, Gov. Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein announced a $31 million grant to help people fight addiction. Eighty percent of that money — about $25 million — will go toward treatment. That money is in addition to the $20 million in addiction treatment and recovery that lawmakers are calling for.

“The opioid crisis is one of the biggest challenges we face across our state,” Gov. Cooper said. “This grant will help further our commitment to fight this epidemic that is destroying families and lives across our state. This is a problem we must solve for the safety and well-being of our citizens. Our families, friends and neighbors need our help.”

The funds will serve 1,460 people in the first year and 1,520 in the second, providing services to a total of 2,980 over the two-year span. This would represent an 18 percent increase in the number of patients currently being served in the 54 private and publicly-funded opioid treatment programs.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump appointed Cooper to a panel created to fight the opioid crisis.