SAN DIEGO — San Diego County leaders and health officials are planning to spend millions of dollars to address the local opioid crisis.

During a news conference Friday at the county administration building, Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher and other county leaders announced there is money coming to address the issue.

Their goal for the money is to save lives and support those who are dealing with drug use and abuse. One local woman, who has been instrumental in testing drugs for people on the street and supplying users with resources, said she is glad to see the money.

“This is something that is long overdue,” said Tara Stamos-Buesig, the founder and executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego County.

The non-profit organization runs a mobile program, offering clean syringes and supplies to protect people on the street who are using drugs.

Stamos-Buesig also takes the time to test street drugs for people. It’s those type of services that saved her life, after she said she spent years on the street using heroin and meth.

Stamos-Buesig said, “I don’t know why I’m here today. I’m no different from anyone else out there and somehow I’m here. And I feel it’s my purpose, it is my duty, definitely my duty and privieldge to be the voice for folks who might never have a voice.”

The county says they are planning to get $100 million dollars from a lawsuit settlement from Purdue Pharma, a major opioid manufacture.

Fletcher, fellow County Supervisor Joel Anderson and other leaders want to use that money to attack the opioid crisis that is plaguing the county.

The county says it had 1,000 opioid related deaths in 2021, a 16% increase from the year before.

Fletcher said, “We’ve got to stop blaming the individual who is addicted. We have got to start meeting them where they are, engaging them with compassion and love. And provide every possible treatment option we can.”

Some of the ideas that leaders discussed are drug disposal bags, more engagement and support services.

The two supervisors will bring the plan to the entire Board of Supervisors in October.