A recent event held in Harkers Island, North Carolina focused on educating local community members on the types of addiction recovery services that are available and on tackling the high rates of substance abuse in the area.
The event, which occurred on May 12, was a community resource fair hosted by the Carteret County Health Department along with two other organizations of the area, the Peer Recovery Center of Carteret and Bridge Down East — a nonprofit organization that offers several programs to educate and inspire local families and youths.
The fair welcomed all members of the community as well as agencies and organizations that look to support individuals battling mental illnesses, substance use disorders and/or other health conditions.
It was announced at the fair that the Carteret County Health Department and the Bridge Down East in Harkers Island will be joining forces to provide the community with increased access to addiction recovery services and other healthcare resources.
The Executive Director for Bridge Down East at Harkers Island, Susan McNamara explained that the people who are impacted by substance abuse in Harkers Island tend to become frustrated because they do not have as much access to addiction recovery services as individuals in larger cities usually do.
However, she affirmed that there are new addiction recovery homes and substance abuse treatment facilities coming to the area to better serve the residents in need. And there are many locals who need assistance for a substance use disorder in the area — just last year, more than 250 visits to emergency departments were attributed to drug abuse, misuse and/or addiction in Carteret County.
Substance abuse, particularly opioid abuse, has been a problem not only in Harkers Island but in the entire state of North Carolina.
Opioids have taken the lives of over 12,000 residents of North Carolina from 1999 to 2016, the state Department of Health and Human Services showed.
From 2016 to 2017, there was 40 percent increase in the number of emergency room visits related to opioids across the state — 4,103 to 5,745, respectively.
Although the number of people who have been recently affected by opioids in the state is still high, newer opioid-related statistics gathered by North Carolina officials have revealed that there has been an improvement.
In February of 2017, the state reported a total 433 opioid emergency room visits, while last February that number had dropped to 397.
Last year, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a plan to combat the effects of the opioid epidemic.
The main goal of the state’s opioid action plan is to lower the number of opioid overdose deaths by at least 20 percent by 2021.
To achieve the goal, members of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services will be putting their efforts toward providing community members with access to preventive health services, naloxone, and more substance abuse disorder treatment providers.
The employees of the state will also be increasing the number of first responders, educational effort, and initiatives such as safe syringe exchanges.