opioids

Governor Roy Cooper is taking a leadership role in North Carolina - and in the country – in addressing the opioid crisis. He was one of six members of President Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

ncleg.net

(CORRECTION - This story has been updated to reflect other WNC legislators who sponsored medicinal marijuana legislation) 

Opioid abuse claims almost four lives per day in the state of North Carolina – leaving some patients to shun the post-surgical benefits of these powerful painkillers altogether.  Recent comments from a Western North Carolina legislator suggest there may be a renewed effort to fill that gap by putting some medical marijuana laws on the books.

Matt Bush BPR

Buncombe County is suing five manufacturers and three wholesale distributors of opioids, as the number of overdoses in the county on those drugs has sharply risen again this year.  It’s an approach other governments at all levels across the U.S. have tried.

Davin Eldridge

The opioid epidemic is unavoidable – even on Halloween in Western North Carolina.  BPR’s Davin Eldridge reports on a 'spooky' holiday decoration that some parents think went too far in calling attention to the problem.


Starting today, the North Carolina Medicaid program will pay for medicines to treat hepatitis C for patients no matter how sick they are. In the past, the state wouldn’t pay for the expensive drugs unless the patient had stage two liver damage.  

Hero Images/Getty Images

Saturday October 28 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.  Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina, says there are drop-off locations all over.

"And it's just a place where you can go and drop off your unwanted and unused leftover prescriptions because they're just too dangerous to leave around."   

At WakeMed Health and Hospitals, the emergency department stays busy around the clock. More than ever, it's not just chest pain or trouble breathing that brings people in.

N.C. Public Division Of Health

The opioid crisis is affecting all of the U.S., and Western North Carolina in particular.  And it is showing no signs of slowing down in the region's most populous county.  In the first 8 months of 2017, 230 visits to emergency departments were reported in Buncombe County, as opposed to just 84 during the same time frame last year.

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

A needle exchange program in Asheville has been running out of supplies on a monthly basis for over a year.  That's according to Michael Harney, co-founder of the Needle Exchange Program of Asheville.  Harney says the group goes through about 60,000 needles a month but can't keep up with the demand for clean needles.  The program operated for years before the exchanges were legalized as a way to ensure those addicted to drugs don't share needles and spread blood-borne diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B and C, which are on the rise in North Carolina.  

Jeremy Loeb/BPR

The opioid crisis is taking an acute toll and nowhere is immune, including here in North Carolina.  North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein says four people die every day in North Carolina from an opioid overdose.  With that in mind, a mixture of lawmakers, law enforcement, first responders, health professionals and advocates of Buncombe County were on hand to hear from Stein recently.  He’s made tackling the issue one of his top priorities since taking office, spearheading a bipartisan bill called the STOP Act.

New cases of hepatitis B and C have risen significantly in North Carolina in recent years. In response, state health officials are warning those at a higher risk for the infection to get tested. 

Hoarding $70 million in Medicaid money that should be spent on patients while spending lavishly on CEO pay and luxury board retreats. These are just some of the findings laid out in a state audit of Cardinal Innovations Healthcare. The company says the spending is justified.

North Carolina is receiving a large federal grant to treat people addicted to opioids. Governor Roy Cooper announced Thursday that the state will receive $31 million for treatment initiatives over the next two years.

Macon County Sheriff's Office

In the midst of a national opioid addiction crisis, doctors in North Carolina are prescribing more and more painkillers.  Western North Carolina is no exception, according to reports.   But a simple clerical error from one such report has helped motivate one mountain community to better tackle the crisis at home. 

Drew Gintis was a teenager when he started wrestling at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh.

And he loved it, even though he lost every match his freshman year, said his mother, Marsha Gintis.

“[He] worked so hard and by his junior year he had a 21 and 2 record,” she said. “His dream was to go to states.”

This is the first of three stories in a series looking into North Carolina's opioid drug epidemic.

On many days, Louise Vincent still cries.

She thinks about what might have been. Maybe her daughter, Selena, could have been a mother herself. Maybe a teacher. Maybe a social worker.

This is the second of three stories in a series looking into North Carolina's opioid drug epidemic. Read the first story here.

Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram was losing a battle against drugs.

This is the final of three stories in a series looking into North Carolina's opioid drug epidemic. Read the first and second stories.

Louise Vincent believes her daughter, Selena, would still be alive today if a harm reduction treatment method were more widely accepted.

Opioids in the Mountains Part 2: The Dope Game

Jul 14, 2016
Mark Wilson, Associated Press

Opioid abuse is on the rise throughout the nation, and North Carolina is no exception. But with its rise in use among addicts, it’s also put a greater burden on law enforcement—at both the local and federal levels.

“It seems to be that there’s a lot of availability of it, and I think a lot of people were at some point doing prescription painkillers they end up not being able to get those and they use heroin which is also an opiate to deal with their addiction issues.”

Opioids in the Mountains Part 1: The Human Toll

Jul 12, 2016
North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition

Ask any addict and they’ll tell you, coming off of opiates can be a hellish ordeal.

“Opiate withdrawal is the most painful experience I’ve ever had in my life.”

“Imagine the flu a thousand times worse.”

“Bone marrow throbbing inside of the bones.”

And if you ask them what an opiate high is like?

“A warm hug from God. It’s just like you’re floating in a sea of… Awesome.”

“Peaceful and serene.”

“A warm, fuzzy blanket that coats your whole body.”

Governor Pat McCrory signed a bill into law Monday to address one aspect of the opioid epidemic. The bipartisan legislation makes an overdose reversal drug much easier to get.