The Opioid Crisis in North Carolina: Why It Is So Important

There is an opioid crisis in North Carolina and has been for at least 20 years due to decades of over-prescription of opioids at higher doses. For example, if you were to break your arm, instead of only the necessary two week prescription for pain reduction, many doctors would over prescribe at four weeks. You would get hooked on the sensation after its job of reducing pain has been achieved, and its all down hill here from there. The epidemic has devastated communities and families.

Some quick facts:

  • Per the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, since 1999-2016, 12,000 North Carolinians have died from opioid-related overdoses.
  • Between 2010 and 2016, seven counties have experienced opioid death rates of 16-25 people. These counties include Wilkes, Yadkin, Burke, Yauncey, Graham, Cherokee, and Brunswick. There are even more counties that have seen opioid-related deaths between 10-15 individuals.
    • Furthermore, these are statistics on opioid-related deaths. This means there are thousands of other individuals who have lost their jobs, become distant from their families, become unable to properly function in society, and more.

In 2005, there there were 642 deaths due to opioids. In 2015, 1110 deaths: a 73% increase. The problem has been prevalent for a long time, and is only getting worse.


What’s being done:

First – Governor Cooper did a fantastic job representing the people of North Carolina as an advocate of the importance of the situation through serving on President Trump’s national Opioid Commission (Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis). He was the only Democrat on the commission, illustrating national acknowledgement of how bad the situation is in North Carolina. The commission produced its final report on November 1st, 2017.

Second– To tackle this health crisis, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is working to connect people with preventative healthcare as well as substance use disorder treatment through community support.

Third – North Carolina officials have proposed an Opioid Action Plan. The state will build partnerships with communities to fight the crisis. It is currently a living document that will be updated as we make progress on the epidemic.

Strategies of the plan include:

  • Coordinating the state’s infrastructure to tackle the opiod crisis
  • Reducing the oversupply of prescription opioids
  • Reducing the diversion of prescription drugs and the flow of illicit drugs
  • Increasing community awareness and prevention
  • Making nalaxone, a man-made opioid antagonist, more widely available
  • Expanding treatment and recovery systems of care
  • Measuring the effectiveness of these strategies based on results


The opioid crisis is alive and hurting communities not only in North Carolina, but in many communities in the rest of America as well.

This is a national crisis so stay tuned for updates and tell a friend about the dangers of certain prescription drugs so we can begin to help solve the issue.

To learn more and stay updated on the crisis and methods of prevention, visit the N.C. Department of Health and Human Service’s website at


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About Ray Palma 12 Articles
Hi, I'm Raymond T. Palma, and I am currently a Junior at Riverside High School in Durham, North Carolina. My email is

1 Comment

  1. Wow. I had no idea. I guess my town isn’t affected as much by it but it still appears to be a super serious issue…..

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