Washington County's Opioid Settlement Funding
Washington County is committed to an opioid settlement funding approach that:
- Embraces a philosophy of harm reduction.
- Takes action on racial and health equity.
- Focuses on the needs of Washington County communities.
- Is grounded in evidence.
Background Information About Opioids
Opioids are a category of drugs that includes fentanyl, heroin, and prescription drugs like oxycodone.
Opioids can be used for medical purposes, most commonly to treat pain. Some people also use opioids for non-medical reasons because they can cause a pleasurable, relaxing effect.
Opioids can be dangerous when used without medical supervision, particularly due to the risk of fatal overdose. An opioid overdose can happen when someone uses too large of an amount, causing their breathing to slow or stop. Some opioids, like fentanyl, are very concentrated, making it easy to accidentally use too much which might lead to a deadly overdose.
A person who uses opioids can also develop an Opioid Use Disorder, also known as opioid addiction, which is a long-term health condition that can have a serious impact on a person’s life.
The opioid crisis is also known as the overdose crisis or the opioid epidemic. It is the worsening trend of overdose deaths across the country.
It began in the early 1990s with the over-prescription of pain medications. Today, the overdose crisis is mostly driven by fentanyl, a very strong opioid that people often use in combination with other drugs.
Any person can be negatively impacted by opioids, but the opioid crisis is currently harming some people more than others. In Minnesota, groups like communities of color, indigenous communities, and LGBTQIA+ communities are disproportionately affected by the opioid crisis. These kinds of disparities can be caused by factors like unequal access to resources and can be worsened by systemic inequity across our society’s systems.
In 2022, an agreement was reached with drug companies that were believed to have played a role in fueling the opioid crisis. The companies are required to change how they manufacture and distribute opioids. They are also required to pay money to address the harm caused by the opioid crisis.
Washington County and other local governments across Minnesota are receiving funds from the national opioid settlements. The funding is spread over 18 years and will be spent on strategies that prevent overdose deaths and other harms caused by substance use in our community.
Settlements with some drug companies have been finalized and legal actions with additional companies are still underway. Current opioid settlement payment amounts to cities and counties are available from The Office of Minnesota Attorney General.
See the resources below to learn more about the opioid settlements and abatement strategies.
- Fighting the Opioid Epidemic in Minnesota | The Office of the Minnesota Attorney General
Learn about Minnesota’s role in the national settlements with opioid distributors and manufacturers. See the Minnesota Opioids State-Subdivision Memorandum of Agreement for detailed information about how settlement funds are allocated across the state.
- Principles for the Use of Funds from the Opioid Litigation | Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Learn more about the five principles created to guide jurisdictions in the use of opioid settlement funds. The principles are as follows:
- Spend money to save lives.
- Use evidence to guide spending.
- Invest in youth prevention.
- Focus on racial equity.
- Develop a transparent, inclusive decision-making process.
- Harm Reduction Principles | National Harm Reduction Coalition
Washington County is committed to an opioid settlement funding approach that embraces a philosophy of harm reduction. Review the principles to learn about what it means to take a harm reduction approach and explore the Resource Center to learn about specific harm reduction strategies.
- Washington County Substance Use and Overdose Profile | Minnesota Department of Health
See the profile for key Washington County data highlights. See the Opioid Overdose Prevention page for additional data at the state and county level.