Law enforcement, lawmakers discuss NC’s heroin epidemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Law enforcement leaders from around North Carolina met in Raleigh Thursday morning to discuss the state’s growing heroin and opioid abuse problem.

The 2016 Heroin Summit was held at the state legislative building where enforcement officers, lawmakers, and community leaders discussed the growing number of overdose-related deaths.

Related: Heroin deaths skyrocketing in North Carolina

“We have seen a huge increase in heroin laced with fentanyl which is causing numerous drug overdoses around the state,” said Donnie Varnell of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a sponsor of the Heroin Summit.

Varnell said the Harm Reduction Coalition advocates for law enforcement assisted diversion programs. The programs would place low level drug offenders in rehab programs instead of jail.

The summit also included discussions on improving social services for addicts and a possible state funded needle exchange program where users could trade in dirty needles for clean ones at no cost.

Related: 4 NC towns in top 20 nationally for opioid abuse, study finds

Proponents of needle exchange say it effectively cuts down on disease transmission and would save the state money in the long run.

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