NC Harm Reduction Coalition responds to Obama's announcement

NC Harm Reduction Coalition responds to Obama's announcement

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - President Obama announced Tuesday he wants to put $1.1 billion toward funding to fight heroin and opioids and help treat people who are already addicted.

Brunswick and New Hanover counties have the second and third highest heroin overdose rates in North Carolina for the past three years.

Robert Childs, the Executive Director of North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, said more resources could help decrease the high numbers.

Obama's initiative called for expanding drug treatment centers and increasing the use of naloxone.

Naloxone is a medication that blocks the effects of opioids.

"We want our local heroes to be able to access that medicine so they could use it in situations where they encounter an unresponsive person from a drug overdose," Childs said, explaining the medication has already saved five lives in the area.

Obama's plan would also allow more access to buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction.

Prescribers would be able to double their caseloads from 100 to 200. This would allow for a greater access to medicine that can help addicts manage their cravings.

Childs says rural areas like Bladen, Pender, and Brunswick counties need buprenorphine.

"Because there's a lack of prescribers in that area," Childs said. "So if the existing prescribers can expand their caseload to help more people, which this region desperately needs."

He believes more medicine will have a domino effect.

"If they can do that, they can easily be able to access employment, get stable housing, which will lead to less crime, less disease, less overdose," Childs explained.

Much of the money the President called for would go to the states, but Congress would have to allocate the funds to make them available.

"We really need to represent the dead, we need to represent the living, and hope that the president and our federal officials will support these initiatives to save lives," Childs said. "Because every life matters, and nobody can recover if they're dead."

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