Overdose Awareness Day declared in North Carolina

Naloxone, commonly known by the brand name Narcan
Naloxone, commonly known by the brand name Narcan(WLBT)
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 10:51 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Gov. Roy Cooper has declared Thursday, Aug. 31, Overdose Awareness Day.

The day aims to remember those lost to overdoses, honor families and renew the state’s commitment to end the overdose crisis, according to a N.C. Department of Health and Human Services announcement. The day hopes to recognize state, county and community partners working to reduce the stigma around substance use and make support services available to more people.

“On this day, we remember those we have lost far too soon to overdoses, as well as their friends, families and communities,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “We will continue to build on our meaningful investments to fight this crisis, including more health insurance with Medicaid Expansion, significant investment in mental health and substance use disorder prevention and treatment and working to get illegal opioids and fentanyl off of our streets.”

Eleven people die every day from overdoses every day in the state, and 1.2 million people have a substance use disorder.

“From 1999 to 2021, more than 33,000 North Carolinians died from drug overdose deaths. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this crisis, with overdose deaths increasing 72% since 2019. In 2021 alone, overdose deaths increased 22%, with 4,041 North Carolinians losing their lives to overdose. This is the highest number of overdose deaths in a single year on record in the state,” the NCDHHS announcement states.

Rates of overdose in the state are increasing fastest among Black, Indigenous and people of color, along with people involved in the criminal justice system.

“From 2019 to 2021, there was a 139% increase in Black/African American overdose rates; and in 2021, American Indian/Indigenous communities had the highest overdose rate at 94.1 deaths per 100,000,” the announcement continues.

People discharged from jail and prison facilities are 50 times more likely to die from an overdose during the first two weeks after their release than the general population, per the NCDHHS.

“NCDHHS has outlined its commitment and approach to addressing overdose in the Opioid and Substance Use Action Plan. Using the Opioid and Substance Use data dashboard, NCDHHS can track progress towards reaching goals outlined in the OSUAP.”

Naloxone is now available at pharmacies, local health departments and syringe services programs. You can learn more about accessing naloxone online here. The suicide and crisis lifeline 988 is available to anyone, anytime via call or text and online.