Addiction recovery efforts continue in SENC as Biden calls for end to opioid epidemic

New Hanover County had the 13th-highest drug overdose death rate of North Carolina’s 100 counties in 2019
Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 9:27 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - During his State of the Union Address on Tuesday, President Biden called for lawmakers and local leaders to bring an end to the opioid epidemic. The president specifically asked for more funding for treatment and recovery programs.

“Increased funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction in recovery,” Biden said. “Get rid of outdated rules that stop doctors [from] prescribing treatments.”

Drug overdose deaths jumped by 26 percent last year in North Carolina. According to Healthy Communities NC, New Hanover County is one of the top-15 highest overdose death rates in the state.

Across southeastern North Carolina, the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction and mental health issues has jumped over the past two years. Kenny House, Vice President of Clinical Services for Coastal Horizons, said COVID-19 made the problem worse for a lot of individuals.

“Even as we’re coming out of the pandemic, it seems like that treatment demand continues to stay high in terms of people seeking treatment,” House said. “Whether it’s for mental health, in terms of depression, anxiety, or other disorders, as well as substance use and specific to opioid use disorder.”

Right now, House says there is more work to be done before we can declare an end to the opioid epidemic The Healthy Communities NC dashboard shows New Hanover County had the 13th-highest drug overdose death rate (34.3) of North Carolina’s 100 counties in 2019.

“Putting an end to the opioid epidemic really means that we make a whole array of resources available to people in terms of education, in terms of our community prevention efforts, in terms of making sure that when somebody seeks treatment at whatever door they wind up at that, that’s not the wrong door,” said House.

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, House hopes the recovery process will become easier.

“I think that with an open environment more people are going to feel free to seek treatment,” House said. “So, that, while things may get better in the environment, we might see an uptick in treatment requests.”

The president expressed confidence that one day the opioid epidemic will become a thing of the past and that those who need help will be able to find it.

“I believe in recovery and I celebrate the 23-million Americans in recovery,” Biden said.

If you or someone you know is struggling, help is available. The National Suicide Prevention lifeline is open 24/7. You can call 800-273-8255. There’s also an online chat option.

You can visit the Coastal Horizons website by clicking here.

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