EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- Opioids kill dozens of people across the Tri-State every year. In 2022, it claimed the lives of 77 people in Vanderburgh County. The Evansville City Council and the Mayor are hoping to break the trend by funding a partnership between two organizations.

“This is huge for the community, to be able to invest in opioid misuse and early intervention,” says Parri Black, the President and CEO of Youth First.

“This is a problem that I think every community faces and this is our way of using at least part of the opioid settlement funds to advance our community,” says Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke.

Council members all voted yes to allocate thousands of dollars to fund a partnership between Youth First and Forefront Therapy.

“What is really unique about our collaboration with Youth First is that we are bring a multigenerational program to the table with occupational and physical services, and the awesome work that Youth First does with their social work team,” says Ryan Wood, the owner and CEO of Forefront Therapy.

The funding is part of a $3.4 million dollar fund the city is receiving over 18 years from the Opioid Settlement Fund.

“It is nice to know that there is going to be meaningful use from these funds out tragedy,” says Mayor Winnecke.

The money will help Youth First retain its social workers.

“We are looking at the risk factors and trauma that often leads to addiction and we are building resiliency, caring relationships, and kills that prevent young people falling into addiction,” Black says.

Forefront will use the money to strengthen its program on treating chronic pain without opioids.

“It is not a once size fits all, and we want to be part of the picture and team to deliverer this care model,” Wood says.

We are told the collaboration is a two year partnership.