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The Solutions


To confront this epidemic, we need cooperation among law enforcement, medical prescribers, the public health community and the treatment and recovery community. Prevention, treatment and enforcement are critical to addressing this issue.

Prevention

Prevention should address educating both the people who might misuse prescription drugs and the doctors and dentists who overprescribe drugs. Our state particularly needs programs directed to young people that are proven to help them avoid risky behaviors. Illicit or non-medical use of painkillers is the highest for youth and adolescents. Teens and young adults report that prescription drugs are easy to access and seem safer than other drugs. More than 20 percent of North Carolina's 11th graders have taken prescription drugs without a doctor's prescription. 

After just a few days on an opioid prescription, some patients’ brain chemistry begins changing to create an addiction. That’s why we have to educate North Carolinians about the dangers of using these medications unless they are truly needed.

Attorney General Stein and members of the North Carolina General Assembly are working to address this issue in the legislature this year. 

Treatment

Because addiction can happen so quickly and has become so common, effective treatment is critical. Experts and research show that medication-assisted treatments have proven to address addiction and promote recovery – especially when paired with therapy and community support. 

Unfortunately, right now, there simply aren’t enough treatment programs around the state. Funding is wholly inadequate. That’s something we must value more and need to fix. 

Enforcement

We need to effectively enforce our criminal laws on this issue. It is critical that we aggressively go after the dealers and traffickers who push heroin on people with opioid addictions. Heroin is much cheaper and readily available than prescription opioids, and it’s even more deadly. People who profit off others’ misery and death must be punished. 

There is a difference between someone who pushes opioids on people and someone who has substance use disorder – a chronic illness. Jail time is usually not the best way to treat addiction. At four times the cost, prison is certainly less cost-effective than treatment.
 
Helping someone treat their addiction so they get well is better not only for the person, but their family and community. While in treatment, the person can live at home, provide for their family, get healthy, work, pay taxes, and contribute to society instead of living on the taxpayers’ dime in jail.
 
Naloxone, or Narcan, is a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose. Across North Carolina, it’s been administered 6,000 times by community members and first responders to save lives. We must work with law enforcement to make sure police departments and sheriff offices have access to this life-saving drug. 

Read more about the problem, and ways to help and get help.