Four agencies in eastern and western NC received federal grants to study and enhance drug treatment options in some of the state’s rural opioid hotspots.
Harm-reduction efforts and addiction treatment are two of the main strategies public health agencies are using to address the crisis. Buncombe County, Haywood County and the Mountain Area Health Education Center are deploying over $660,000 in federal funds as part of that effort.
“For a town that touts its ‘progressiveness,’ the city of Asheville has shown once again that it is only willing to take the measures that will make our town pretty for its tourists — not livable for its residents.”
Health and law enforcement officials in North Carolina are trying to deal with an epidemic of opioid addiction, and they’re moving away from criminal prosecution for substance use disorders. Instead, the newer model is to coordinate care across the divide between physical and behavioral health “silos” (separate areas of service provision).
A new state law allows wider access to the drug naloxone, which can temporarily reverse overdoses. Mental health professionals, emergency responders and public health advocates have hailed the bill as an important step for protecting those using prescription opioid medications as well as illicit drugs like heroin.
Amid escalating use and abuse of opioids nationwide, the number of local narcotics-related overdoses has increased rapidly in recent years. The drug naloxone can temporarily suspend those drugs’ effects, and the Asheville metropolitan area leads the state in confirmed cases of opioid overdose reversal, according to the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition.