• 36°

Stanly ranks 1st in opioid ODs, 4th straight month

For the fourth straight month Stanly County ranks first in the state in opioid overdoses, according to the latest figures released by N.C. Department Health and Human Services.

Nowhere is the state’s opioid epidemic more dire than in Stanly, which leads the state in the highest rate of opioid overdoses showing up in hospital emergency rooms. Cumberland, Robeson and Cabarrus counties trail Stanly. Nearby Gaston, Mecklenburg, Guilford and Forsyth counties also made the top 10.

In North Carolina, there were 484 overdose visits to hospital emergency rooms for September. The sum was down slightly from last year’s total of 490 for the same month.

Emergency room visits statewide for opioid overdose occur predominately among whites, and those ages 20-44 years. Males have higher opioid-related overdose deaths than females.

Earlier this week Gov. Roy Cooper announced the state will receive $27 million in federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic.

Grants include $23 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and $4 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will administer both grants.

“Preventing opioid misuse and treating addiction save lives and we must fight harder against substance use disorder,” Cooper said. “These grants will help prevent overdose deaths, provide resources to families, and provide effective treatment for those struggling with opioids.”

DHHS had been directed to seek federal prevention and treatment funding to combat the opioid crisis.

“Securing these grants is an important step in fighting the opioid epidemic, but this is only one part of the solution,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “An opioid use disorder is a chronic disease and we need to make sure there is sustainable funding for people to have ongoing, affordable access to care.”

Monarch of Stanly County was recently awarded $1.6 million federal grant, with the possibility of another $1.5 million next year. The funds will be used to expand its Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic to focus on mental health and substance use disorders in the county.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-08, has been aggressive with the opioid epidemic, which has adversely impacted his district. He has been working to secure bipartisan legislation that aids in the fight against opioid addiction.

“I’ve met and spoken with countless people who became addicted to pain pills they took from the family medicine cabinet,” Hudson said. “In fact, the majority of people who have misused prescription pain relievers first got them from their own medicine cabinets or from their friend’s or relative’s medicine cabinets. This is the front line in our all-hands-on-deck fight to end the opioid crisis.”

Last year, Hudson was the only member of Congress from the North Carolina delegation to attend the White House’s announcement to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

In 2017, 1,884 North Carolinians died of an unintentional opioid-related overdose.

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.