KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Several East Tennessee county governments will be able to help their communities in the ongoing opioid crisis that has affected them in recent years after the state received millions of dollars from lawsuit settlements.

Knox County is receiving around $2.5 million, while neighboring counties Anderson, Blount, Loudon and Sevier are receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from a trust fund set up by the state.

All 95 Tennessee counties have received a share of more than $31.4 million in payments from the Tennessee Opioid Abatement Council, which began processing the direct payments from the Opioid Abatement Trust Fund to county governments this week.

The state said the funds are being distributed in accordance with the terms of settlement agreements negotiated by the Tennessee Attorney General. County governments are receiving 35% of the proceeds directly.

“While no amount of money will be enough to completely heal broken communities, funds distributed through the Opioid Abatement Trust Fund will provide further resources toward recovery and assist in bringing this epidemic to a halt. The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office will not let up on holding opioid manufacturers and distributors accountable,” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a news release.

“There isn’t a county in Tennessee that hasn’t been touched by the opioid crisis. The funding going to these counties will have an immediate and much-needed impact. We are excited to get this funding out to all 95 counties of our great state, and we can’t wait to see how local leaders put it to good use,” Stephen Loyd, M.D., Opioid Abatement Council chairman, said.

County governments and their leaders are able to choose from a specific list of approved activities that was set by the Tennessee Opioid Abatement Council. The list was set by the council in September 2022 and includes opioid use disorder treatment programs, medication-assisted treatment, recovery supports and prevention measures.

The state clarified Friday that payments from these settlements, while not as large as this initial payment this week, will be continuing annually for the next 18 years.

“Our hope for these dollars and all the funding that will flow from the Opioid Abatement Trust Fund for years to come is that Tennessee communities begin to repair the damage that has happened and is still happening due to opioid addiction and that people are able to find new lives in recovery and achieve their full potential,” Marie Williams, LCSW, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services commissioner, said. “We are so grateful to Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, former Attorney General Herbert Slatery, and the tireless team at the Office of the Attorney General because we know their efforts on this essential issue will help define how our state recovers from the opioid crisis.”