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OUR VIEW: Grant could help set new course in opioid battle

In a week filled with disappointing developments concerning Stanly County’s ongoing opioid overdose crisis, news that a $1 million grant from the federal government is on the way was a welcome revelation.

News that Stanly is once again on the wrong end of the per capita list of overdoses in the state, combined with Sheriff Jeff Crisco’s projection that the number of 12 overdoses for the month of July only told part of the story, confirms what many know — our opioid addiction problems do not seem to be getting better.

The Stanly County Health Department deserves congratulations for doing all the work to apply for the grant and securing the funds. Now the work to improve our opioid crisis begins.

The county leaders and health department have been given a tremendous resource to fight this issue. It will be interesting to see what programs they fund and what they try to get this problem under control.

Some solutions may be outside many people’s comfort zone.

Baltimore’s health commissioner provided a blanket prescription for free naloxone to the city’s 620,000 residents and encouraged everyone to keep it in their medicine cabinets so opioid overdoses could be reversed.

Seattle has stopped arresting people for personal drug possession. Instead of arresting those using or possessing drugs, Seattle’s police department connects drug abusers with treatment professionals who can help them.

Multiple cities provide clean needle services.

It’s time to take a new approach in Stanly County. It’s clear the crime and punishment model is not deterring our drug overdose issue. As Delton Russell of Will’s Place says no one aspires to grow up and be a junkie. No one chooses that life.

The goal should not be to punish those who have fallen into the web of addiction but to keep them alive and provide effective treatment.

Hopefully, this $1 million grant will help Stanly County keep our people alive and help them recover.