In Western North Carolina counties, such as Buncombe, the opioid overdose rate has spiked and is at an unsettling rate. It has overwhelmed social workers, law enforcement, and multiple other local civilians affected by the epidemic. In the first eight months of the year there were 230 opioid overdose cases in our county, with dozens resulting in death.
Synthetic opioids are a drug that relieve pain as well as produce euphoria. Euphoria is a feeling or state of intense excitement and happiness. Opioids can be used safely when taken for a short amount of time when prescribed by a doctor, but because of the euphoria that they produce they can easily be abused. Even when opioids are used properly and prescribed by a doctor, one can become dependent on the drug and can lead to addiction, overdose, and potentially death.
It is estimated that between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide. It's estimated 2.1 million people in the United States suffer from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. In Buncombe County opioid abuse is most common in 25 to 34 year old white adults. Opioids have 230 deaths to its name in the past 8 months in Buncombe County alone.
A recent survey conducted at Asheville Middle School shows that not just authorities, but everyone, thinks that opioids are a problem in Buncombe County. Recently in Buncombe, a meeting was held to discuss the epidemic. Representatives for multiple parties affected by the epidemic told Attorney General Josh Stein about the problem and what they think needs to be done. Stein also met with multiple groups of current and previous addicts of the drugs, “Ive met addicts who would have sold their mothers for their next fix.” said Stein.
Children and infants being tested for drugs in their system are being found to have methamphetamine, ecstasy, and multiple other different types of opioids mixed in. Ninety percent of children coming in to be tested are testing positive.
Ten Buncombe County school officers were trained to reverse overdoses recently in order to help prevent death by overdose in middle and high schools in the area. They were trained on how to administer overdose reversal kits, also known as Narcan kits. They will also know be provided with naloxone nasal spray, which can almost instantly reverse an overdose.
It is clear to many, if not all, that opioids are a serious problem in the US and Buncombe County. Many citizens are actively working to help with the epidemic and try and slow the death by overdose rate in Buncombe County.
Story by Aislinn Nash