Governor Cooper Announces Bold Action Plan to Turn the Tide of the Opioid Epidemic in North Carolina Opioid-related Overdose Deaths up more than 800% in NC since 1999

RALEIGH

Governor Roy Cooper today kicked off the Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention Summit and announced North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan.

Opioid overdose has claimed more than 12,000 lives in North Carolina since 1999, with opioid-related overdoses deaths up more than 800 percent in the state through 2016. Gov. Cooper today joined Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., to announce a plan to fight opioid abuse and overdose deaths. The plan is the product of input from many partners and sets strategies to reduce the number of deaths and measure progress.  

In 2016, opioid-related deaths in North Carolina were up by 20 percent from the previous year, according to DHHS data. If that rate continues, by 2021 North Carolina would expect to lose more than 1,500 additional lives per year to opioid overdose.

“North Carolina is losing lives to opioids, an addiction that ravages physical and mental health, hurts families and communities, and holds back our economy,” Governor Cooper said. “This plan gives us a path to reduce these deaths and turn the tide on this crisis.” 

Governor Cooper serves on the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. Other speakers at the two-day summit include Attorney General Josh Stein, leaders from the Centers for Disease Control, and experts from numerous organizations across North Carolina working to reduce the opioid epidemic. 

“I thank Gov. Cooper and Sec. Cohen for focusing more attention on the opioid crisis with today’s summit,” said Attorney General Stein, who will speak at the summit Wednesday. “As a state, we must work together to prevent people from becoming addicted to these dangerous drugs, treat those who are and give law enforcement the tools they need to go after the traffickers who are profiting off the death and misery of others.” 

Following Governor Cooper’s announcement, Secretary Cohen presented an overview of the plan’s strategies and applauded the collaboration among the nearly 600 attending the summit. She noted that the epidemic will require partnerships from many sectors and will need to be well funded and resourced to be successful.

 “We have a lot of work to do,” Secretary Cohen said. “The opioid crisis is a devastating and complex issue that requires multi- faceted, collaborative action across the health, law enforcement, education, business, non-profit and government sectors. We are all here today, to join together in fighting this epidemic.”


About the Opioid Action Plan

The strategies outlined in the plan include: 

  • Reduce the oversupply of prescription opioids
  • Reduce the diversion of prescription drugs and the flow of illicit drugs
  • Increase community awareness and prevention 
  • Make life-saving naloxone widely available and link overdose survivors to care
  • Expand treatment and recovery systems of care

The plan calls for measuring the effectiveness of these strategies based on results.  

The Opioid Action Plan is a concise document that does not capture all the work happening around the state to address the issue or the numerous partners involved. It is a living document that will be updated as we make progress on the epidemic and encounter new issues and solutions.

About the Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention Summit
Sessions at the summit include local, state and national efforts, social determinants, innovative policies, prevention, harm reduction, criminal justice and treatment. 

Attorney General Stein will join Secretary Cohen as the Summit continues Wednesday. Topics include the role of law enforcement in the fight against the opioid epidemic, and Sec. Cohen will lead a discussion looking at details of the North Carolina Opioid Action plan. The plan is available at ncdhhs.gov/opioids.

Advocates and professionals from across North Carolina and 11 other states are attending the summit. They include community leaders, teachers, law enforcement, emergency medical services, social workers, healthcare providers and hospital administrators. The summit provides opportunities to learn about innovative policies and best practices to prevent opioid misuse. The goals of the summit are to:

  • Engage partners in learning and discussion of efforts related to opioid misuse, addiction and overdose death
  • Educate and inform partners on evidence-based/informed, promising, and innovative policies and practices that prevent opioid misuse, addiction and overdose
  • Energize, challenge and connect partners to build consensus and rally behind policy and programmatic interventions that focus on social determinants, healthcare, harm reduction, criminal justice, and prevention strategies around opioid misuse, addiction and overdose death

The plan and summit drew praise from stakeholder organizations.

"We are delighted to see recovery featured so prominently in North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan,” said Donald McDonald, Director of Advocacy and Education Recovery Communities of North Carolina, “With adequate and evidence-based recovery supports, we get better than well, and our families and communities benefit." 

Tessie Castillo, Communications and Advocacy Coordinator for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, said, “NCHRC looks forward to the opportunity to engage in productive dialogue with stakeholders from around the state to address the opioid epidemic in our communities.”
Individuals with substance use disorders can get help by contacting their LME/MCO for assistance with treatment or recovery. To find out which LME/MCO serves your county, visit ncdhhs.gov/providers/lme-mco-directory.

Funding for this summit is provided by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information about the summit, visit opioidpreventionsummit.org.

To read North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan and for more information about the summit, visit ncdhhs.gov/opioids.