The opioid crisis is on the rise and has been affecting the U.S. dramatically. Opioids are a class of drugs including heroin and a variety of painkillers. In the U.S., from 1999 to 2017, there have been more than 400,000 opioid overdoses. The numbers are only increasing. In 2017, there has been a significant increase. City Sheriff says, “We are having an opioid epidemic in North Carolina.” Many people are affected by opioids since they can be prescribed by your doctor and are easily accessible. A large majority of opioids are painkillers, so if you broke your arm, you could potentially become addicted to opioids. Our county especially is a victim of opioids. According to Addiction Center, just in 2016, 17 million painkillers have been prescribed in Buncombe County. The opioid epidemic is on the rise and we need to stop it.
Many people take opiates as a way of escaping from the real world, but using these drugs can have some consequences that many aren’t fully informed about. Some major physical effects of opiates on the body are Increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli, constricted blood vessels, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, increased energy, decreased appetite, physical agitation, difficulty sleeping, over-arousal and hyper-vigilance. There are also a lot of mental side effects of opiates including increased general anxiety, anxiety attacks, euphoria, psychosis, depression, irritability, and lowered motivation. Opioids have many terrible consequences on your body and mind but can also have negative effects on the community surrounding you.
The opioid epidemic is a very serious issue in Asheville and Buncombe County. Opioids and other prescription drugs are on the rise in Asheville and are leading to many deaths and other issues. According to Sheriff Quentin Miller, there have been 110 opioid overdoses in Buncombe County this year, and that number is increasing. A side effect of opioid and other pain medication abuse is Heroin abuse, which is also on the rise in NC. Bluebanner.net said that many college students are coming to UNCA with pain medication addiction, and when they can't get their hands on oxycontin, they turn to heroin as a cheaper alternative. Recently, there have been initiatives towards investigating narcotic transportation through North Carolina. This narcotic transportation line is how many opioids get into North Carolina, and most recently how Mexican Black Tar Heroin has been getting in. According to Sheriff Quentin Miller, “Not a week has gone by where someone hasn’t died from opioids.” These drugs are destroying our very communities which we call home, and have cause pain in many’s lives.
Opioids affect our communities in many ways. The opioid crisis has caused pain and suffering to families in our community. They break up homes from the lack of trust between family members. Opioids can cause homelessness and increase crime rates, as well as incarceration rates. Incarceration rates further strain the taxpayers. Opioids can increase the number of deaths from an overdose which affects the police/fire departments because they are required to tend to the opioid users. But instead, they could be spending their time dealing with different issues.
Though getting addicted to opioids seems very hard to recover from, there is still hope. Several rehabilitation centers have popped up throughout Buncombe County. The Sheriff of Asheville says that they just received money from the state to create a rehab program for jail inhabitants in Asheville. A few of the rehab programs focusing on opioids in Buncombe County are Crest View Recovery Center, Mountain Treatment Center and Western Carolina Treatment Center. As well as these centers people all around the country are taking actions to help prevent and stop the opioid epidemic from becoming bigger than it already is. The first step is becoming aware of this problem. Make sure you know how addictive painkillers are and warn others about this ongoing issue. Hopefully, we will rise and spread awareness about this urgent topic in today’s world.
By Olivia Crosson, Liv Suydam, Will Euler, and Talula Perry
Public safety is a huge problem anywhere you go. Each city has to deal with public safety and have a way to keep it under control. In Asheville there are many aspects to public safety. Some of them include the police, fire fighters, the hospital, EMT, city budgets, safety measures, and substance abuse problems.
The police's job in Asheville is to protect the city and its citizens. Their are 428 employers in buncombe county. Recently there has been a controversial video that was released by the police that was an officer involved shooting. Most people are classifying this video as police brutality. This video was of two white male police officers beating a black male and forcibly arresting him after he supposably jaywalked and trespassed. This was a body-cam video. The officers were Officer Ruggiero and Officer Hickman and the man who was supposably jaywalking and trespassing was Mr. Johnnie Jermaine Rush.
There are 12 fire stations located in Asheville. The AFD protects lives, property, and environment of Asheville. They are trying to prevent fire occurrence and minimize fire damage. The AFD offers several programs to learn about fire and fire safety for all ages. Fire Fighters in Asheville has an association, IAFF. IAFF was chartered in 1932 but were rechartered in 1946. The association has been thriving for years and continues to work.
It is the 6th largest health center in the state and the largest for Western North Carolina. There are 7 mission health centers in Asheville located in downtown/Biltmore and south Asheville area. It consists of almost 1000 physicians and over 50 medical specialists in subspecialties. They have more than 12000 employees and more than 2000 volunteers. The hospital is licensed for 795 beds.
There are many safety measures here in Asheville that helps make our community a safer place to live in. There is a public safety committee in Asheville that meets and discuss public safety issues in Asheville. They go over subjects such as the illegal use of drugs, cooperation with law enforcement, education organizations, and traffic laws/patterns. There are three members on the committee and they meet at the town hall. They meet to try to make Asheville a safer place for everyone living here.
The budget division works to plan, prepare, and monitor the budgets for the city. The division also assists the city manager and other departments in performance management, planning, forecasting, evaluation, and budget. Officials in Asheville have recently approved a new $190 million city spending plan. The plan will take effect on July 1st, 2019. The money will go to the city of Asheville, to water systems, police, fire-fighters, construction, transit, homelessness, etc.
AN EMT is an emergency medical technician. They are trained to respond quickly to an emergency situation. Some situations are medical issues, traumatic injuries, and accident scenes. There is a 6 week pilot program to examine the roles as an EMT and public safety officials. The city of Asheville wants a healthy and safe environment for our community, the Asheville Fire Department will function with 2 bike teams in conjunction with the current Police Department Units.
Substance abuse in Asheville is a huge problem. There are many places in Asheville were you can get free help and many rehab facilities. A Lot of the problem has come from painkillers or opioids. Over 17 million painkillers have been prescribed in buncombe county in 2016 alone. Just from January to august in 2017 there was 230 overdoses. That's roughly about 1 death per day. In 2015 399 babies that were born in mission hospital tested positive for opioid substances. According to Sherif miller “Opioids have no boundaries, there is no limit, no color or race.” He says, “When people start dying we will start talking.”In an attempt to reduce the opioid crisis in Asheville the city has made places were you can go and drop off your pills and have banned lower prescription opioids in buncombe county.
Story by Ariella Valdiviezo, Hadley Wallace, Emma Locane, Sydney Edwards, and Chloe Summerlin