WNC Opioid Response Consortium

Cherokee, Clay, and Graham Counties are experiencing enormous social, health, and economic burdens due to substance misuse, of which opioid use is a signficant contributor.

About The WNC Opioid Response Consortium

The WNC Opioid Response Consortium — the Consortium, was formed in response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identification of Cherokee, Clay, and Graham counties as three of the top 200 counties in the United States at high risk of outbreak for HIV and/or Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) because of the opioid epidemic. Its work is made possible by a $1 million Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) grant. 


The Consortium has been meeting since November 2018 to systematically assess gaps and opportunities in the three-county region related to substance use disorder/opioid use disorder (SUD/OUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery. This assessment, which included listening sessions with people in recovery, key informant interviews, and data analysis, has informed the development of a strategic plan to maintain gains made in the region over time.

We have identified the following strategic directions: 

  • Support local and regional primary prevention-focused activities, particularly in schools.
  • Assess and address substance use disorder/opioid use disorder workforce shortages in the tri-county region.
  • Increase local capacity to connect individuals with substance use disorder/opioid use disorder to community-bsed resources for treatment and recovery.
  • Increase access to medication-assisted treatment and other evidence-based substance use disorder/opioid use disorder treatment.
  • Implement evidence-based harm reduction interventions, particularly through local partnerships with providers, law enforcement, and first responders.