Check out Sunrise Community, and our very own Kevin Mahoney and Geena Hammond, as featured in this week’s edition of the Mountain Xpress!
Cure for pain: Preventing opioid-related deaths
Posted on January 25, 2017 by Dan Hesse
Buncombe County, like many places across the country, is in the throes of an opioid epidemic, many local sources say. Despite law enforcement efforts and increased awareness of overprescribing, the last few years have seen a dramatic rise in opioid-related overdoses and deaths.
Between 2005 and 2014, the county had 110 homicides, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. During the same period, 195 county residents died from opioid overdoses. And between 1999 and 2015, Buncombe ranked eighth among the state’s 100 counties, with 304 opiate deaths. Worse yet, those numbers are accelerating rapidly. During a 15-year stretch (1999-2013), Buncombe County recorded 17 deaths from heroin overdoses. In the next two years alone, the county had 27 heroin-related deaths. The number of overdose emergency calls has also soared, according to Asheville Police Department statistics. In 2015, city emergency personnel responded to 70 overdose calls. Last year, that number jumped 67 percent, to 117 calls.
Hope may be on the horizon, however, thanks to a sea change in how the problem is viewed. Increasingly, county officials, law enforcement personnel and health care providers are framing addiction as a public health issue rather than a crime. And a proposed diversion program could prevent deaths and ruined lives while creating a healthier community…Read More