NC AG speaks out on opioid crisis at NC health directors conference

Attorney General Josh Stein spoke Wednesday at the 36th Annual Legal Conference of N.C. Local Health Directors (Beairshelle Edme/CBS North Carolina)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Attorney General says the demand for drugs is one issue, if not the main one, causing the state’s opioid crisis.

Attorney General Josh Stein (D) spoke at the 36th Annual Legal Conference of N.C. Local Health Directors Wednesday, where he told the directors gathered at the School of Government at UNC that everyone from the local, state, and national level would have to be dedicated to solving the drug problem, and laid out three steps towards addressing the opioid issue.

Stein pointed first to prevention, which he says means working with medical professionals so they are not over-prescribing patients with opioids, and educating North Carolina’s youth so they don’t participate in risky behavior.

The attorney general also highlighted treatment, and noted that this step would involve labeling the opioid crisis as an illness and an addiction, as well as funding recovery centers and efforts.

Lastly, Stein pointed to punishment as his final step toward thwarting the state’s drug issue. Stein said he intends to work with several law enforcement agencies to round up drug traffickers and make sure they are brought to justice.

“You can’t just cut off the supply and expect this problem to go away because where there is addiction, there will be demand and people will pay whatever it takes to get the drugs,” Stein explained. “We have to have a multi-faceted approach.”

Stein was met with several questions about syringe exchange programs, naloxone access, and overall funding for this effort, and responded by pointing to the success of several existing programs. Stein also directed focus to the passage of his STOP Act, which if passed would provide local healthcare departments with naloxone, the overdose reversing drug credited with saving hundreds of lives.

Stein told CBS North Carolina he’s confident that the STOP Act will get passed with bipartisan support and help address the opioid crisis.

To learn more about the STOP Act, visit this link.

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