Substance Abuse Treatment in Charlotte: Focus of Summit Meetings

Substance Abuse Treatment in Charlotte: Focus of Summit Meetings

Two summits were recently held at the Charlotte Convention Center to discuss substance abuse treatment in Charlotte and the effects addiction is having on Mecklenburg County and the state.

North Carolina has shown a growing trend in drug overdoses.

In 2017, there were 5,745 people who had to visit the emergency room due to a drug overdose, which was an increase from 4,103 in 2016. In 2017, heroin was responsible for the majority (68 percent) of the hospital visits in the state while preliminary data indicated that 1370 people died of drug-related overdoses.

In Mecklenburg County, 654 people had to visit an ER in 2017 due to a drug overdose compared to 355 in 2016. Also in 2016, 175 people died of drug-related overdoses. The data collected through February of 2018 indicated that 844 people had to go to the ER due to drug-related overdoses, according to the North Carolina Injury and Prevention Branch.

The goal of the summit was to educate the residents of Mecklenburg County on the dangers of drug addiction and the need for more substance abuse treatment in Charlotte.

The Mecklenburg County Health Department stated that over 600 people showed up at the second meeting to discuss substance abuse treatment.

Dick Beardsley, a former marathon runner and speaker at the summit, talked about his own substance abuse problems. He said there would be faster results with more discussion about the disease of addiction. He believes after the summit that the word is finally beginning to spread about the local problem of substance abuse and things will soon improve.

Gibbie Harris, the Mecklenburg County Health Director, said that overdose deaths are down in 2018. She stated that just because deaths are down, does not mean drug-overdoses are going down.

Harris highlighted that there is a growing trend in adolescents experimenting with drugs and continuing into college. She said she wants more resources spent by the state and federal agencies as well as healthcare coverage for substance abuse treatment.

The state is working toward finding solutions to increase substance abuse treatment. Attorney General Josh Stein requested that residents turn in their unused prescription pills and is currently touring North Carolina to attempt raise awareness to the issue.

Assistant County Health Director Connie Mele emphasized in the first summit that a number of reasons are linked to the opioid epidemic and stated that the NC Stop Act was passed last year in an attempt to limit… (Continue Reading)