Stanly once again ranks 1st in opioid overdoses

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, April 18, 2019

Stanly County once again leads the state when it comes to opioid overdoses.

In March, Stanly had the highest rate of opioid overdoses showing up in hospital emergency rooms, according to data released by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. Cumberland, Buncombe, Randolph, Surry, Robeson, Davidson, Iredell, Pitt and Forsyth rounded out the top 10. Stanly led the state in overdose rates for many months last year.

Stanly had 13 people overdose in March, an uptick from January (two) and February (three). The 18 overdoses from January to March is slightly more than last year’s total of 17 during the same time.

For the 13 overdoses in March, seven were attributed to heroin.

White people accounted for roughly 85 percent of overdoses in Stanly, compared to about 15 percent of black people. Individuals ages 25-34 accounted for almost 40 percent of the overdoses, while those ages 35-44 accounted for almost 30 percent of overdoses.

“I don’t know anyone that knows why overdoses went down over the last several months and then up again recently,” said Delton Russell, who works for Will’s Place, a resource recovery center in Albemarle that helps people recover from substance abuse.

Russell’s only hypothesis is that possibly people took counterfeit pills thinking they were hydrocodone or oxytocin when in reality they were pure fentanyl, the synthetic opioid that’s helped contribute to the national opioid crisis.

In North Carolina, there were 595 overdose visits to hospital emergency rooms in March, 60 more overdoses than in February. The sum was slightly more than last year’s total of 560 for the same month.

The Stanly County Health Department intends to apply for a $1 million Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Implementation grant.

The Health Department reported to the county commissioners on Monday that the grant would strengthen the department’s efforts towards preventing opioid abuse and future overdoses and would help eliminate the stigma placed on those suffering from substance abuse disorders.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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