NC governor working to combat opioid epidemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — In the trunk of Jesse Bennett’s car, he has everything ready for when he gets a call.

“We’ve been successful at getting people into treatment,” Bennett said. “I experienced overdoses myself, had reversals.”

He has boxes of naloxone, a life-saving drug that can reverse the effect of a heroin overdose. There are clean syringes to prevent the spread of disease.

On Friday alone, he received calls from six people looking for help.

“I deal with individuals who are homeless and addicted, and I deal with individuals who are in the suburbs and addicted,” said Bennett.

The opioid crisis is impacting more and more families each year.

This week the governor’s office released new data, showing opiate-related deaths increased 73 percent statewide from 2005 to 2015. Wake County saw a 77 percent increase. However Cumberland, Durham and Johnston counties all saw the death rate nearly triple in that time frame.

“It happens all around me a lot,” said Bennett.

A bill called the STOP Act passed the state House of Representatives last month.

It limits prescriptions of opioids to a five-day supply on a patient’s first visit and aims to reduce doctor shopping. It exempts certain patients from that requirement, such as those being treated for cancer.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced a $31 million grant Thursday primarily for addiction treatment.

Bennett said, “If we’re adamant about dealing with issues of addiction, it has to be full circle.”

Though the STOP Act passed the House unanimously, the Senate hasn’t acted on it yet.

The governor, a Democrat, criticized Republican senators for recently moving funding for education programs out of Democratic districts to fund efforts to address the opioid epidemic. Senate leaders say it’s necessary to combat the issue without raising taxes.


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