Opinion: Peer Support Specialists allow others to benefit from lived experiences
Sally Stein OPINION COLUMNIST Asheville Citizen-Times
In September 2021 our nation hit a devastating milestone. More than 104,000 Americans died due to a drug overdose from September 2020 to 2021, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
This is more than motor vehicle and firearm deaths combined. Right here in Buncombe County, a staggering 180 people died from unintentional overdose deaths from 2020-2021.
This puts Buncombe in the highest percentile of overdose deaths in North Carolina for 2020. As a person who spent her entire career working with persons recovering from mental health and substance use challenges, it was exciting to hear President Biden’s State of the Union speech address a commitment to saving the lives of individuals in these populations at risk of overdose death.
Press release from North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services:
Eight organizations across the state will now be able to increase their recovery services, supports and accessibility for individuals with substance use disorders.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is awarding nearly $4,000,000 across eight community-based organizations to increase the availability of services provided by Certified Peer Support Specialists.
Local organizations update Buncombe on opioid responseMountain Xpress Posted on by Xpress Contributor
The opioid crisis is bad everywhere in North Carolina. It’s worse in Buncombe County.
According to figures shared with the county Board of Commissioners by Dr. Shuchin Shukla, a physician and opioid crisis educator with the Mountain Area Health Education Center, Buncombe’s rate of overdose deaths has exceeded the statewide average since at least 2016. In 2021, the county suffered 45.2 deaths per 100,000 residents, compared with 35.8 deaths per 100,000 for North Carolina as a whole.
Shukla was among several stakeholders who briefed the board about opioid issues Oct. 4. Representatives from local reentry program Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness, the county’s Post Overdose Response Team and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office all shared updates on their work and discussed specific efforts they’d like to see supported.
Opioid use disorder treatment in jails making strides in North Carolina
WUNC North Carolina Public Radio | By Rachel Crumpler/NC Health News
Elijah Bazemore believes there needs to be a paradigm shift in the way detention facilities — jails and prisons — are managed.
“What we’re doing is putting a person back into the community the same way they came in — broken and torn up,” said Bazemore, who recently retired as a major from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office after more than 30 years.
Recovery community seeks to stop more overdoses with naloxone
On Sept. 13, Buncombe County Health & Human Services issued an alert on social media and to local groups like the Homeless Coalition about a spike in overdoses in the county.
“Please be advised, over the last several days there has been a continued spike in probable overdoses in Buncombe County,” the email alert from spokesperson Stacey Wood read. The alert continued, “we strongly encourage agencies to distribute naloxone,” and it urged drug users to test substances with fentanyl test strips before use.
Buncombe leaders use community feedback to develop strategies to fight opioid overdoses
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Buncombe County leaders have worked to identify strategies to prioritize opioid response funding in the community. As combating the opioid crisis has been a priority for the county, leaders have looked to the community for feedback on new strategies to help lower the number of overdoses.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics in 2021, the annual rate of overdoses in Buncombe County was 45.2, almost 10 points higher than the state rate of 35.8.
Counties begin looking at how to spend millions in opioid settlement allotments
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein visited Asheville on Monday, July 25, to take a tour of the Buncombe County Detention Facility.
During his tour, Stein was briefed on the jail’s ‘MAT’ program. The “Medication-Assisted Treatment” program is an effort to help detainees recover from opioid addiction.
“I really believe that Buncombe County can really be a model to other counties across the state,” Stein said. “It’s all about attacking the crisis of the opioid epidemic.”
NC attorney general impressed by Buncombe County opioid addiction treatment program
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — Several western North Carolina counties are beginning to decide how they will use millions of dollars of opioid settlement funding being distributed to counties.
In April, North Carolina governments started receiving the start of $750 million in total funds from a $26 billion multi-state national opioid settlement in which Attorney General Josh Stein’s office played a role. The lawsuit was against three of the nation’s major pharmaceutical distributors and Johnson and Johnson, on behalf of the millions of people who have died due to the opioid epidemic.
Buncombe County is set to receive $16,175,039 over a 17-year period. Henderson County will receive $8,897,700.
Buncombe County staff are beginning to make recommendations for that $16.175 million.