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Inmates FIRST in state to Methadone program GET MOBILE Children: WE’RE LOSING OUR LEADERS TACKLE OPIOID ADDICTION

Methadone Treatment Centers

serving Virginia and North Carolina

Visit us online! methadonetreatmentcenters.com

7008-G Little River Tpk Annandale VA 22003 Phone: (703) 333-3113

8427 Dorsey Circle, Suite 101 Manassas VA 20110 Phone: (703) 330-7517

4926 W. Broad St. Richmond VA 23230 Phone: (804) 673-5241

1728 Virginia Beach Blvd., Suite 113 Virginia Beach VA 23454 Phone: (757) 437-0411 6118 Saint Giles Road, Suite 130 Raleigh NC 27612 Phone: (919) 781-5507 150 E. Arlington Blvd., Suite C Greenville NC 27858 Phone: (252) 353-2555

...building a bridge today for a better tomorrow

The first step... Chemical dependency affects not only dependent persons but also those persons who surround them. Family members become emotionally stressed, display similar symptoms and become progressively immobilized. For every abuser, four to six family members, friends or fellow employees become affected. Coming to grips with the fact that narcotic use has become a problem is the first step in the recovery process. Admitting the problem is not a declaration of personal weakness or worthlessness. Instead, it is a sign of strength and the reaffirmation of life. Addiction is a treatable disease that requires abstinence from drug abuse and working a program of recovery. Our hope is that our program will be the gateway to a satisfying and rewarding illicit drug-free lifestyle for you and your family.

History Our first clinic, Fairfax Methadone Treatment Center (FMTC), opened in September 1992 and was the first private outpatient methadone program in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the first such outpatient program, public or private, in Fairfax County. WMTC opened three years later, followed by RMTC in Raleigh, NC. The Richmond center opened in 1999 followed by the Virginia Beach center in late 2000. Our program specializes in treatment of opioid addiction by assisting individuals who are physically dependent on substances such as heroin, morphine, Dilaudid, Percodan, Oxycotin and other narcotics. We offer both detoxification and maintenance programs. The program’s medical director will decide, in consultation with the patient, which program best suits the patient’s needs. The state, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and the Drug Enforcement Administration license all components. In Virginia, the state’s Board of Pharmacy also licenses the clinics. Each clinic has a Medical Director, who is a specialist in addiction medicine, and is staffed by qualified professionals. All of our clinics have been CARF inspected and have received accreditation.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) -- Virginia Beach officials filed a lawsuit on Monday against major opioid manufacturers and distributors, citing the overdose deaths of 114 people in the city since 2016.

The city of Virginia Beach and its sheriff’s office are suing companies like Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart, Inc., and Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. for the “costs and financial impacts resulting from the opioid epidemic,” according to a city news release.

These costs include money paid by the locality to provide medical care to those suffering from addiction, including infants born with opioid-related medical conditions. The costs also include money spent on drug treatment, counseling and rehabilitation services, according to the federal lawsuit. Read Virginia Beach’s lawsuit against opioid manufacturers “The addictive nature of prescription opioids are the reason Congress in 1970 designed a system to control the volume of opioid pills being distributed in this country,” Deputy City Attorney Christopher S. Boynton wrote in a press release. “In exchange, those companies agreed to do a very important job - halt suspicious orders and control against the diversion of these dangerous drugs to illegitimate or illegal uses,” Boynton continued. “But in recent years they filed to do that, and today Virginia Beach is among the communities that are paying the price.” More than 520 people have overdosed on opioids in Virginia Beach since 2016. City officials believe that their overdoses are part of a national public health epidemic linked to “the increasingly widespread misuse of powerful opioid pain medications,” the lawsuit states. “The manufacturers aggressively pushed highly addictive, dangerous opioids, falsely representing to doctors that patients would only rarely succumb to drug addiction,” the lawsuit states. “These pharmaceutical companies aggressively advertised to and persuaded doctors to prescribe highly addictive, dangerous opioids, turning patients into drug addicts for their own corporate profit.”

An addict finds freedom: Gary Sheehan shares his story of recovery By James Neal jtneal@statesville.com Sep 26, 2017

G ary Sheehan holds his newly acquired associate degree during graduation at Mitchell Community College in 2014. SUBMITTED Attention is primarily placed on the dangers of addiction, but Iredell resident Gary Sheehan, 50, wants to shift some of that focus by sharing his story of addiction and reminding people that there is hope for recovery. “People need to know that people do recover from addiction,” Sheehan said. “It’s not always a sad story. Not everyone dies or goes to prison. There are millions of us in in recovery.” According to the 2016 Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs and Health, approximately 50 percent of the 25 million adults with substance abuse disorders have been in remission for over a year. Many believe that more addicts might seek help if the stigma is removed. “It needs to be considered a medical issue like heart disease, diabetes, cancer,” Rhonda Lazenby of BK Professional Counseling Center in Mooresville told the Record & Landmark earlier this year. “Drug addiction is a medical issue. If someone’s diabetic and they relapse and gain weight, we don’t dog them and send them to prison. If an addict relapses, we send them to prison. You’ll see people getting help when we get rid of the stigma.”

'LAST-DITCH EFFORT' It started when he was young and quickly accelerated. Sheehan was only 12 years old

when first exposed to alcohol and drugs. By the time he was 13, he was sentenced to three years in juvenile detention, a stint which introduced him to harder substances and had him freebasing cocaine by age 17. “Give me the next powerful, more-potent drug,” Sheehan said. “It went from alcohol to marijuana to mushrooms, acid, pills — opiates and opioids — finally up to cocaine.”

Sheehan said he tried a number of things to break addiction over the years, but nothing worked. “Once I got to that stage, marriage didn’t work, divorce didn’t work, having children didn’t work. I even tried to join the military,” Sheehan said. “That’s how I ended up in North Carolina. The last-ditch effort for me was a geographical cure.” Sheehan traveled from Providence, Rhode Island, finally stopping in Statesville upon seeing signs that read “Crossroads for the Future,” Iredell County’s slogan. After three months in Statesville, he was still getting high and decided to leave for a detoxification facility in Florida. “July 22, 2008,” Sheehan said. “It was my first day clean since I was 12.” Sheehan returned to Statesville with a list of 12-step programs he heard about during the 30-day detox. “When I got off the plane, I went to my first meeting and I never stopped going,” Sheehan said.

Life began to improve.

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He’s a licensed CSAC-I, a substance abuse counselor and North Carolina Peer Support Specialist. Now Sheehan spends his time speaking at detox centers and 12-step groups throughout Iredell in an effort to help others find their way out of addiction. “Joining a 12-step fellowship and engaging [in] all that life had to offer — that’s freedom, that’s the way out,” Sheehan said. “There’s help out there and there’s no cost. The only thing we want to do is share our experience, strength and hope with you to help you find the life that we found. No catch.”

FINDING FREEDOM Sheehan came to North Carolina as a drug addict with a ninth-grade education. Three years later, he was clean and holding down a stable job. “I found out I was half intelligent,” Sheehan said. “The whole world opened up. All these things I failed at — relationships, education, family — it all just came.” Sheehan earned two associate degrees from Mitchell Community College in 2014 and a bachelor's degree in human services from Gardner-Webb University in 2016.

“Sheehan said he tried a number of things to break addiction over the years, but nothing worked.”

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C . — Nearly 8 percent of Fayetteville-area residents who take prescription drugs become addicted, placing the city 18th nationally for opioid abuse, according to Castlight Health, a San Francisco-based health care information company. Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald said veterans are 10 times more likely to abuse opioids than the civilian population, which likely drives Fayetteville's numbers up. Jacksonville, another military city in North Carolina, ranks 12th on Castlight's list of worst locales for opioid abuse. While the military is taking steps now to attack addiction, many veterans question why the military took so long to address a problem the veterans say it created. "When I got addicted to opiates, I was like a monster," said David Bloch, who served more than six years at Fort Bragg, including a nine-month tour in Afghanistan. Bloch injured his back during a convoy, then training made it worse. Army doctors prescribed him Percocet, Oxycontin, oxycodone and other painkillers. "They're really quick to prescribe painkillers – I mean, really quick," he said. Data reviewed by WRAL Investigates shows the explosive rate at which oxycodone was and Opioid addiction newest battle line for many veterans

continues to be prescribed in Fayetteville. In 2006, 134,000 grams were prescribed. That total more than doubled over the next decade, to 337,000 grams by 2015 – more than what was prescribed in larger cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro. After surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bloch said he wanted higher doses. "That's when I started actually abusing it," he said. "I have my part, but they definitely turned me into something I wasn't before I joined (the Army)." The VA estimates one in 10 veterans on painkillers is addicted. "We know we've got an issue. We're addressing the issue. We admit we've got an issue," said Elizabeth Goolsby, director of the Fayetteville VA Medical Center. "The entire county was late to respond," not just the military, said Goolsby, who helped lead a task force that changed the way Cumberland County deals with addiction. "Opioid addiction is not looked at as a crime. It's looked at as an illness," she said. That meant creating a drug court just for veterans and tapping into the state's registry that tracks prescribed painkillers. "Our expectation is that all our providers check the registry before they prescribe an opioid and that they use methods other than medication first," she said. John Bigger, director of Behavioral Healthcare Services for Cape Fear Valley Health, said he sees veterans and civilians prescribed painkillers to the point of addiction every day. "In 2010, we had about 480 presentations of opioid dependence. In 2016, we had 1,800," Bigger said. When legal prescriptions run out, many addicts turn to the streets for more meds. "You could go within six blocks of here probably and find some," he said. The fight against painkiller addiction also exacerbated the problem. Two years ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration required veterans to refill their prescriptions every 30 days, instead of 90, to protect against abuse, but appointment backlogs at some VA hospitals forced veterans to find pain relief on the streets – by pills or heroin. Ken Smith, who oversees Cape Fear Valley Medical Center's detox program, said the abuse problem "got out of control, and now we're paying the price for it." "Very often, we have to turn away people because our beds are full," Smith said. Goolsby said the VA plans to add detox beds in Fayetteville soon. Right now, the closest inpatient VA facility is in Salisbury. Bloch said he battled withdrawal with more and more meds. Desperate for a fix, he turned to heroin, which he said cost him his family and and his self-respect. "I'm a soldier, and so, I had that feeling: I'm wearing this uniform, and I'm a junkie," he said with a sigh. He eventually reported his addiction to the Army. Protocol led him to treatment, which didn't work, and when he failed drug tests, the military discharged him.

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"They don't understand addiction like they should. It's a complex thing," he said. "It almost feels like they threw me away like some trash." That's when Bloch found Carolina Treatment Center of Fayetteville, a medication-assisted program that uses methadone and other treatments – a strategy the Army frowns upon – to help addicts turn their lives around. "This place definitely saved my life. I probably would have overdosed, honestly," he said. "I believe, over the last few years, we've jumped into a more progressive, solution-minded mindset," said Amy Garner, director of Carolina Treatment Center of Fayetteville. Goolsby agreed that new strategies and cooperation were needed to tackle the opioid epidemic. "We have become more enlightened, I think, the more that we understand about opioids," she said. VA officials said one of the biggest challenges is getting veterans to ask for help, noting addiction is one of the leading contributors to veteran homelessness. Goolsby said a study on homeless veterans first tipped officials to the scope of the addiction problem. Bloch now takes classes at Fayetteville Technical Community College, where he's studying to be a counselor, like those who helped lift him out of addiction. "There's hope out there," he said.

"In 2010, we had about 480 presentations of OPIOID dependence. In 2016, we had 1,800." -John Bigger, director of Behavioral Healthcare Services 13

FAILURES. www.methadonetreatmentcenters.com 150 E. Arlington Blvd., Suite C Greenville NC 27858 NOT AS OPPORTUNITIES. VIEW RELAPSES AS LEARNING

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GET WELL WITH US TODAY 252.353.2555 15

Inmates First in State to Get Mobile Methadone Program InmatesattheAtlanticCountyJusticeFacilityarethefirstinthestateto getmethadone,amedicationassistedtreatmentforopioidaddiction,from amobileservicewhilebehindbars ESTELL MANOR, N.J. (AP) — One by one, inmates at the Atlantic County Justice Facility made their way outside in a secured area on a recent Wednesday and stepped into a bus from the John Brooks Recovery Center for their daily dose of methadone. The inmates are the first in the state to get methadone, a medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction, from a mobile service while behind bars. The jail and the recovery center teamed up for the state's pilot program in order to bridge the gap in services for incarcerated addicts. By NICOLE LEONARD, The Press of Atlantic City

"This is a cause near and dear to my heart," Geraldine Cohen, the jail warden, told The Press of Atlantic City (http://bit.ly/2xammUn). "My son has been in recovery for 13 years with help from methadone. He's now got a really good job, bought a house and is getting married. Hopefully, we can help more people like my son with this program." The mobile methadone clinic, managed by the John Brooks Center and staffed with experts from the center, county jail and Jewish Family Service, aims to treat pregnant women abusing opioids or on methadone, any inmate already using methadone and addicted people with high risk of recidivism. The program currently provides medication treatment for about 11 people. Alan Oberman, center director, expects to enroll up to 50 inmates at a time for the program in the near future. "We know the program will reduce the chance of an overdose once they get out," Oberman said. "One of the most at-risk populations for overdoses is recently incarcerated people. Their tolerance for the drug drops after they are clean in jail for a period of time, so if they use when they get out, they are likely to overdose." About 65 percent of all the 2.3 million U.S. inmates meet the medical criteria for substance abuse addiction, according to a report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. However, it showed only about 11 percent actually receive treatment.

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known as Suboxone, will not be offered through the program as Oberman said the risk for the medication to be abused is too great. The treatment needs more observation than can be provided at the mobile jail program, he said. Some people are so dependent on methadone for treatment that the fear of going to prison, where there was previously no treatment, became heightened. Jane Calabrese, inmate service supervisor, said one recent inmate worried so much about going off methadone in prison that he did not turn himself in on a warrant until he was guaranteed treatment. Out of the 11 program participants, three were new to medication assisted treatment. The mobile methadone program was established in early August with $335,000 from the state Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. The money was already awarded to the John Brooks Center for its previous mobile services in Atlantic City. Dennis Levinson, county executive, said it made more sense to bring the methadone services to the inmates instead of transporting them to outside methadone clinics every day. He hopes the program not only benefits the inmates, but their friends, families and communities they return to. "We've got them now, and so while we have them, instead of just releasing them without anything, we can now capitalize on treatment," he said. "The worse thing we could do is nothing." Experts said they hope the program's success will lead to similar services at other jails across the state. "Even if we can help just one person at a time, that's a success," Cohen said. "And when people share their stories about their addictions and recovery, it continues to take away the stigma." transporting them to outside methadone clinics every day. He hopes th i

Equally concerning for experts are the rising rates of overdose deaths. Drug overdose deaths in New Jersey increased more than 20 percent between 2014 and 2015, reaching 1,587 deaths. The majority involved heroin, according to the state Medical Examiner's Office. National studies and experts say that medication assisted treatment for opioid addictions works, especially when linked with counseling and other services like 12-step programs. Success rates are why Oberman, Cohen and other county officials pushed for five years to start the program at the county jail. "These individuals will be treated as if they were in John Brooks Center," Oberman said. "A doctor and nurse will see them, do evaluations and physicals, prescribe their methadone and get them linked to programs and continuing treatment services once they are discharged." Methadone, an opioid agonist, reduces the painful symptoms of opioid withdrawal and blocks the euphoric effects of the drug. Oberman said he plans to also offer inmates naltrexone, commonly known as Vivitrol, which completely blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids. A third commonly used medication assisted treatment, buprenorphine, "EVEN IF WE CAN HELP JUST ONE PERSON AT A TIME, THAT'S A SUCCESS," -Geraldine Cohen, Jail Warden, Atlantic County Justice Facility

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Admission Admission to the program is based on certain criteria, including intake interviews, laboratory procedures, physical examination and psychological evaluations. The medical director makes the final determination for admission. These procedures comply with federal and state regulations.

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Five dead of apparent opioid overdoses in Chesterfield in three days

Chesterfield County police are searching for answers and a possible connection between five overdose deaths in three days as the region continues to roil with the effects of unrelenting opioid addiction. “We’re actively investigating to see if there’s a direct correlation to the source of the heroin,” said Chesterfield police Maj. Frank Carpenter. “There’s probably some kind of nexus to a specific source.” “We are extremely concerned because we’re not sure if it’s coming from a specific source or it’s a bad batch of heroin coming to the area,” he said. “We want to get the message to the community ... so they won’t become a victim.” “I really want to get the message out that there’s some dangerous stuff out there,” Carpenter said. Three of the dead were men, and two were women. One of the men was in his 50s, another in his 20s. The three other people who died were either in their 30s or around age 30. Each of the five people was pronounced dead by police at the scene. Four of the five bodies were found in homes, and one at a business.

Chesterfield police have responded to 167 apparent opioid overdoses this year, 26 of them fatal. Those numbers include the five from Friday through Sunday. That is a larger number of total overdoses than was reported by Chesterfield police during the same period last year, but the number of fatal overdoses in Chesterfield has decreased this year. In Richmond, the number of apparent opioid overdoses, both fatal and nonfatal, has decreased this year, according to statistics from the city police. overdoses last year, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield had 220 overdose deaths last year, accounting for 18 percent of the statewide death toll. Statewide, more than 1,220 people died of opioid

Carpenter declined to identify the five people or the business, citing the ongoing investigation.

Carpenter said Chesterfield police contacted authorities in Henrico County and Richmond after the deaths to see if they also had seen an increase in overdoses over the weekend.

Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield had 220 overdose deaths last year, accounting for 18 percent of the statewide death toll.

METHADONE (252)353-2555 150 E. Arlington Blvd., Suite C Greenville NC 27858 PLEASE CONTACT US AT TREATMENT CENTERS 20 GOALS AND OBJECTIVES Our overall goal is to help each individual in our centers regain sobriety, dignity and purpose within the scope of the general society.

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Jesse Bennett is the statewide overdose prevention coordinator for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition. “It’s not that it’s lethal. It’s lethal in the dosage it’s taken. So heroin is lethal if you take enough dosage of it, any opioid is,” said Bennett. He believes the increase in deaths is due to dealers misleading users. “So what happens is, individuals don’t realize they have fentanyl mixed in with their heroin,” said Bennett. New data from the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office shows in 2016, 543 people died from fentanyl. In just one year the number more than doubled to 1,252. They even provide addicts with free drug paraphernalia including syringes, cookers, and fentanyl testing strips. By law, they can legally give these items out and the people who receive it will not face prosecution. “So what we’ve seen is they are able to test their drugs before they inject them,” said Bennett. “Then if it comes up positive for fentanyl then they can say ‘maybe I should just do a test shot ... maybe I should not do this at all ... maybe I should have someone here in case of an overdose’.” “If somebody could have been monitoring his use, it would have saved him the day that he was alone, “ explained Anne Sporn.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - Newly released numbers reveal an alarming increase in North Carolinians dying from a new kind of drug. It’s easier to get your hands on than heroin and it’s proving to be much more lethal. Now, one group is using an unconventional method to stop the problem. For one North Carolina mother, she believes this method may have saved her son’s life. “There’s a hole ... that will be there forever,” said Anne Sporn about her son. Sam Sporn was a bright-eyed, happy young boy until addiction gripped his life. His mother Anne Sporn says he started smoking marijuana in high school, which led to heroin. “By the time my husband and I figured out what was going on we really were kind of in the throes of big-time heroin addiction,” Anne Sporn said. They took him to rehab in the fall of 2014 and he went back to college months later. But while at school he relapsed. “He died in the bathroom of his dorm room. It was locked. He was all alone and they had to beat down the door,” stated the mother.

Sam Sporn is just one of many people who’ve died of a heroin overdose in North Carolina.

While new numbers from the North Carolina Medical Examiner show heroin deaths decreased slightly from 2016 to 2017, a new threat is emerging. Fentanyl is now claiming more lives. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it’s cheaper and easier to obtain than heroin.

COUNSELING REFERRAL SERVICES The patient is assisted in breaking the drug habit with the use of methadone and counseling therapy. • Individual appointments to evaluate progress • Group, educational and peer support sessions • Family sessions upon request • Referrals to appropriate community agencies • Medical evaluation and referrals • Vocational and educational guidance and assistance

150 E. ARLINGTON BLVD., SUITE C GREENVILLE NC 27858 26

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The number of drug overdose deaths in North Carolina jumped by more than 22 percent in the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. North Carolina saw the second-highest spike in the country after Nebraska.

Greenblatt said a trend toward cutting heroin with strong synthetic opioids—such as fentanyl—are making street drugs more dangerous. He said to cut down on deaths, North Carolina needs to strengthen comprehensive addiction treatment programs and make them widely available for long-term use. Dr. Anuradha Rao-Patel is a medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. She urges patience and perspective and points out that the opioid crisis didn’t happen overnight. It was facilitated by the addictive nature of the drug, marketing, high prescribing rates and the imprecision of pain scales. “It’s been a long time coming and I think it’s going to take some time before we start seeing a shift,” Rao-Patel said. “With continued education, prescribers understanding they there are alternatives and being very judicious about what they’re prescribing, I think that in time, we can turn the tide.” To curb new addictions, Blue Cross and Blue Shield sharply restricted first-time opioid prescriptions in April and urged doctors to recommend alternatives for pain management. Rao- Patel said Blue Cross has already seen the number of opioid doses prescribed cut by one-quarter. Greenblatt said drugs like buprenorphine are effective for blocking the effects of opioids and treating opioid use disorder, but that many health professionals don’t bother treating people for their addictions because the believe patients are unlikely to access long-term care. Greenblatt said that needs to change. “We should think about people that have addiction as, they’re going to need long-term treatment,” he said. “That’s a lot of manpower to provide all those services, you know?” Greenblatt said expanding medicaid payment for buprenorphine and other support services for vulnerable populations could save many lives.

“I was a bit surprised to see that our prescription opioid deaths—after a number of years trending downwards— have been heading back up,” said Dr. Lawrence Greenblatt, lead physician at the Duke Health Opioid Safety Initiative. “And there’s been a lot of efforts in our state around reducing opioid overdose deaths, both prescription and illicit drugs, and it seems like we’re losing on all fronts. And that was kind of disheartening.”

CONFIDENTIALITY & ELIGIBILITY CONFIDENTIALITY All services are provided in the strictest of confidence. Federal regulations prohibit the release of any information without the patient’s specific written consent, except as provided by law. D A Y A L I

(252)353-2555 150 E. Arlington Blvd., Suite C Greenville NC 27858 COME GET HELP! 30

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ELIGIBILITY Our programs are licensed to serve any opiate-addicted adults over the age of 18 and will admit any qualifying adult without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual preference, or HIV status. Ultimately, the program’s medical director determines eligibility for admission. 31

'WE'RE LOSING OUR CHILDREN: LEADERS TACKLE OPIOID EPIDEMIC BY JON HAWLEY • STAFF WRITER • FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2017

Prescription drug abuse and heroin continue to kill people in northeastern North Carolina, the featured speaker told government and law enforcement officials at a three-county forum in Elizabeth City on Thursday. “We're losing our children, we're losing our family members to addiction,” said Donnie Varnell, a former State Bureau of Investigation agent who now works as an investigator for the Dare County Sheriff’s Office. Pasquotank County and Albemarle Regional Health Services organized the forum, held at the K.E. White Center. The event drew not only Pasquotank and ARHS officials, but officials from Camden and Perquimans counties, as well as Elizabeth City and the towns of Winfall and Hertford. The forum was partly the result of a call by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners for local leaders across the state to get more involved in confronting opioid abuse — a situation officials both statewide and nationally are calling an “epidemic.” “On a national level, more people overdose and die from opioids and other prescription narcotics than die in traffic accidents,” Varnell said. In North Carolina, he reported, prescription opioids contributed to more than 700 deaths of state residents in 2015, more than double the number from cocaine abuse. Compounding the problem, he said, drug dealers are increasingly combining heroin with fentanyl. The latter drug is vastly stronger than morphine and even trace amounts can kill someone, he said. Efforts to stem the prescribing and illicit sale of these drugs have also had an unfortunate side effect: driving up the use of heroin as a cheaper, more easily accessible substitute. Heroin deaths have risen from almost none in North Carolina in 1999 to 363 in 2015. Opioid abuse also appears to still be on the rise, based on state data shared by Walter Meads, assistant director of Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Medical Services. Emergency room visits for opioid overdoses have totaled about 3,100 statewide this year — well on track to surpass the 4,100 in 2016. Locally, Meads reported that opioid abuse has led to a number of deaths,

primarily in Pasquotank County. In 2016, seven Pasquotank residents died from opioid abuse. Thus far this year, four Pasquotank residents have died from opioid abuse. The few fatalities are thanks in large part to naloxone, an anti-opioid medication commonly administered now by both paramedics and law enforcement officers. Meads reported that, across the three counties, EMS crews have administered the drug 76 times so far this year compared to 110 times last year. Meads said that opioid abusers are predominantly white, male, and younger than 35. Law enforcement and ARHS officials reported they are making efforts to stem the tide, however. The Albemarle Overdose Prevention Coalition, a successor to the group that implemented a Project Lazarus drug prevention grant, has hosted prescription medication take-back events and organized educational events in local schools for both kids and parents, ARHS health coordinator Ashley Stoop and others have said. Luke Marcum, an officer with the Elizabeth City Police Department, said that the ECPD, along with other law enforcement agencies and District Attorney Andrew Womble's office, are working to start “assisted diversion” programs that would offer low-level drug offenders treatment without fear of criminal charges. The mindset that every drug abuser should face jail time has burdened law enforcement and the courts, but not stopped drug use, he said. “We are not going to arrest our way out of this problem,” Marcum said.

Marcum added the ECPD hoped to start its program next year. He also stressed that the program must be able to offer addicts immediate, 24/7 help. The program will “lose” people if they have to make appointments or come back later, he said. Following some round-table

discussions, local officials discussed

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other ways to address opioid abuse. Though Elizabeth City now has a methadone clinic, audience members noted the area lacks a detox center for recovering addicts. Camden Board of Commissioners Chairman Clayton Riggs noted that Sentara Albemarle Medical Center once had a dedicated, secure area for mental health and drug patients, which he suggested could help address that need. Forum facilitator Jan King Robinson, a former administrator for the hospital before Sentara Healthcare took over, said the hospital found that space was costly and saw too little use. Addressing the detox center issue, Elizabeth City City Manager Rich Olson said it's extremely difficult to open standalone detox centers. Based on his experience in other communities, property owners strongly oppose detox centers being built near them, he said. Audience members also appeared to agree that more anti-drug education is needed in schools. One example is the “Keepin' It Real” program used in the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools and other school districts. Interviewed after the forum, ECPPS Superintendent Larry Cartner said Keepin' It Real helps kids resist peer pressure to use drugs, and also has an officer trained in the DARE program who's currently assigned to work at River Road Middle School. Cartner said the schools want to help instruct kids against drug abuse, but they also face intense “competition for time” given their instructional goals and other things people want them to teach. He said ECPPS officials will likely discuss with the Pasquotank Sheriff's Department what their school resource officers can do to help with the opioid abuse problem. Cartner said the district has not yet used the “Drugs Uncovered” program that ARHS has promoted in other local schools to educate parents about the signs of

drug abuse by their children. However, he said the challenge will be getting busy or otherwise unavailable parents to attend. Parents who are already well engaged would be most likely to attend, he said. Following the meeting, ARHS Director Battle Betts said counties might look now to hold forums on opioid abuse geared toward the public. He said ARHS would be ready to assist with any such meetings. “ON A NATIONAL LEVEL, MORE PEOPLE OVERDOSE AND DIE FROM OPIOIDS AND OTHER PRESCRIPTION NARCOTICS THAN DIE IN TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS.” -Donnie Varnell, a former State Bureau of Investigation agent 33

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nce the patient has completed detoxification and no longer needs methadone therapy, our program offers the patient an AfterCare counseling program without charge. AfterCare has no time limit, but the patient will be required to have and pay for regular drug screens. The purpose of AfterCare is to help the patient continue to focus on a drug-free lifestyle and to explore satisfying alternatives to drug use.

methadonetreatmentcenters.com 150 E. Arlington Blvd., Suite C Greenville NC 27858 COME GET HELP TODAY! (252)353-2555

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• Outpatient Maintenance or Detoxification • Detoxification programs of 30 days to 6 months • Long-term methadone maintenance

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