WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - “This has been an epidemic 50, 60, 70 years in the making,” said Kenny House, vice president of clinical services at Coastal Horizons.
House is referring to the ongoing opioid epidemic plaguing Wilmington. Coastal Horizons and the City of Wilmington teamed up last August to fight the ongoing crisis by launching a new pilot program called Cape Fear Opiate Overdose Quick Response Team (CFOOQRT).
The goal is to intervene, educate, and ultimately, save lives. The QRT pairs addicts with first responders on the streets in hopes of getting them treatment and keeping them out of jail.
On Monday, Rep. Ted Davis (R-New Hanover), Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and other local leaders received a progress report.
“In the first six months, we engaged and connected with 66 overdose survivors; 53 of those agreed to treatment. It’s an 85 percent success rate,” said House. “We saw the benefits very quickly, an average of 10 people per month responding to an outreach effort to get them and their families into treatment.”
House told local leaders it took an average of two to three contacts per person before they would agree to treatment. He attributes that to the fact that people are hesitant to leap into treatment, often needing a bit of extra encouragement.
The team makes contact through repeated house visits, phone calls, text messages, and other communication.
Outpatient treatment for the addict includes includes medication, behavioral therapy and peer support.
House Bill 324 funded the pilot program for two years at $250,000 a year. Sponsors of that bill include Davis and Rep. Deb Butler (D-Brunswick, New Hanover).
“We are going to need additional money because this epidemic is not going away in one, two, three or four years,” said Saffo. “We have a lot of people out there addicted and we have to continue to be able to engage them and get them into treatment.”
The idea for CFOOQRT came from a similar plan used in a small town in Ohio. The teams there saw a 35 percent decrease in repeat overdoses, and an 80 percent success rate in getting people into treatment.