State leaders hold summit to discuss plans to tackle opioid abuse in NC


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The impacts of opioid use in our state are becoming increasingly clear.

Now, state leaders are working to find ways to slow that crisis. They’re discussing the issues and new ways to prevent them during a two-day “Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention Summit” in Raleigh.

Included in the conversation are some who could be considered the face of opioid use and survival.

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“I almost lost everything because of substance abuse disorder. If I did not have access to adequate and appropriate treatment when I needed it most — which is now — if I didn’t have robust recovery support services in my community, I would have been a statistic,” said Donald McDonald.

McDonald said he hasn’t used alcohol or drugs in nearly 13 years. He’s now the director of advocacy and education for the nonprofit Recovery Communities in North Carolina. McDonald spoke at the summit.

“My family trusts me and they’re proud of me and I’ve become part of the solution,” he said.

One of the responses to the opioid epidemic is to get emergency treatment in the hands of more people. Three thousand boxes of Narcan nasal spray will be distributed around the state and put in the hands of not just law enforcement, but also friends, family and caregivers of people with a history of opioid use.

“This is the new approach, the only way that we know we can stop this crisis, which is a crisis…is have naloxone everywhere in the community and have everybody have the ability to use it without specific training,” said Thom Duddy, executive director of communications with Adapt Pharma.

Duddy said that 91 people per day around the country die from opioid abuse.

In addition to making naloxone widely available across the state, leaders will also try to tackle the supply prescription opioids, cut the flow of illegal drugs, and expand treatment and community awareness of the crisis.

More than 12,000 people have died from opioid overdoses in North Carolina since 1999, according to state statistics.

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