The Sinclair Broadcast Group and WLOS hosted the third installment of the ongoing series of city halls to raise awareness of the country's deadliest drug epidemic.
Eric Bolling moderated the event as part of the "Our Voice, Our Future" series. The Town Hall was streamed live from Asheville, North Carolina and is available on all Sinclair websites. Bolling and his wife Adrienne were decidedly active activists in the fight against opioid addiction after losing their 19-year-old son in 2017 due to an accidental overdose of fentanyl.
The guests' podium included Attorney General of North Carolina, Josh Stone Senator Jim Davis, Waynesville Police Chief Bill Holingsed, and Melinda Ramage, co-founder of Project CARA, a program that provides access to pregnant women to drug drugs because of drug abuse.
Guests focused on what is being done in North Carolina and is tackling the crisis through public education and prevention programs, improved medical treatment and addiction treatment and new tools for law enforcement agencies.
Legal and illegal opioids have affected every demographic group and virtually every community in the United States. In 201
North Carolina was hit particularly hard by the opioid crisis. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of overdose deaths in North Carolina increased more than three times the national average. With 22.5 percent, this was the second-fastest quota in the nation.
Since then, the state has embarked on an ambitious strategic plan of action to reduce the number of deaths from opioids by 20 percent by 2021. Last year, the number of overdose deaths in North Carolina slowed by 5.5 percent year-on-year, according to preliminary CDC data.
Attorney General Stein has made combating the opioid epidemic a top priority since he took office in 2017. According to Stein, expanding access to Medicaid would be "the most effective thing" North Carolina could do to fight the opioid epidemic.
"This epidemic is both a supply problem and a demand problem," Stein told Bolling. To stop the demand, the addiction problem needs to be addressed. "We need to help them get the health care they need to stop them being addicted."
Studies show that counseling plus drug-based therapies using drugs such as methadone or buprenorphine is a more effective and recommended method of treating opioids addiction. However, many do not opt for help because of the cost of treatment. By taking on the Medicaid extension through the Affordable Care Act, Stein believes more people will be able to get the help they need.
Republican State Premier Jim Davis was cautious on Medicaid expansion, but agreed that both the state and the federal government would have to invest more in addiction treatment. The Davis-sponsored HOPE 2017 Act provided the state with another $ 10 million in treatment money from the next fiscal year.
"We need to provide these people with long-term care," said the senator. Some treatments could take years and even a lifetime. "It's a modern disease we have to deal with," he said.
The state recently received $ 31 million in federal grants for addictive drugs. The heads of state estimated the funds that helped around 3,000 people. But with 70,000 to 90,000 North Karolinians struggling with addiction, Stein said the US dollar is still "a decline."
North Carolina is also an example of how the opioid crisis has developed from doctors' offices to the streets. For years, over-the-counter painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone and codeine have been the leading cause of overdose with opioids. By 2016, this trend began to shift. As physicians and hospitals fought hard for the prescription of these drugs, more and more Americans turned to cheaper and more dangerous street drugs.
As in other parts of the country, heroin and fentanyl are now the leading cause of opioid overdose and opioid emergencies. The latest data from the Department of Health and Human Services in North Carolina show that heroin and fentanyl accounted for the vast majority of overdose deaths (80 percent). Nationwide, fentanyl has been involved in more than half of all fatal opioid overdoses.
Stein is one of many attorney general who has sued the pharmaceutical company Perdue for its alleged role in promoting the opioid epidemic. For years, Perdue had aggressively marketed the opioid OxyContin and provided financial incentives to physicians who prescribed it. Stein insisted that Perdue and the pharmaceutical industry were a "major driver of this epidemic."
Attorney General Stein also urges health care as an approach to law enforcement agencies of the state. Arresting someone for using drugs or committing crimes to feed their addiction does not disrupt the cycle, he said. People are addicted to prison and leave them addicted.
"Law enforcement has a new approach," he continued. "Let us get people out of criminal justice and health care as much as possible."
The chief Bill Hollingsed focused on implementing a law enforcement support program that seeks to break the cycle of crime addiction. He hopes to break the addiction cycle to break the cycle of crime, "he said.
As first responders, Hollingsed is often at the forefront of providing life-saving drugs to overdose doses such as Naloxone and Narcon to administer Naloxone Nasal Spray North Carolina emergency workers administered 15,282 naloxone doses.
"Not to be brief, but we sometimes call it Jesus in a bottle," Hollingsed said. The police department is currently working with schools, workplaces, and others, to make sure they have access to naloxone.
Sinclair started Liberty University two months ago with the series "Our Voice, Our Future." First Lady Melania Trump led the event and spoke to students and families about the abuse of opioids , the third pillar of her "Be Best" initiative, and she also dealt with the growing problem of abuse s of opioids in expectant mothers. 19459006
In recent years, midwives have seen a spike in the number of babies born with opioid addiction called neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), and withdrawal symptoms appear as early as the first few weeks of life. According to the CDC, 21,732 infants with opioid dependence were born in 2012, which corresponds to a child born every 25 minutes.
Melinda Ramage is the medical director and co-founder of the co-founded CARA project, which provides comprehensive substance treatment for pregnant women and new mothers. The aim of the program is to create "safe spaces" for women and their service providers.
The CARA project found that 70 percent of women who are pregnant and suffering from substance abuse first entrust their obstetrician. This is partly due to the shame and stigma of being pregnant and addicted, Ramage explained.
"Never in the addiction world is there a stigmatized population than the pregnant women," she said. The CARA project is working to overcome this stigma with an "open door" approach. The program guarantees that a woman can confide in herself, that she is pregnant and is fighting addiction. The CARA project will not call the police or the social services department, they will offer help, said Ramage.
Since its inception in 2014, the CARA project has helped hundreds of patients through the MAHEC (Mountain Area Health Education Center) -Risk-Pregnancy Department.
Sinclair's national conversation on opioids continued in Washington, DC with a Town Hall in December, which included high-ranking representatives of the Trump administration, including the White House White House advisor, Kellyanne Conway, and the veteran secretary, Robert Wilkie Affairs. The DC City Hall focused on the growing problem of illegal fentanyl and the support of veterans to overcome the stigma of addiction.
Last week's Town Hall was broadcast live from Laredo, Texas, providing a timely, in-depth discussion on drug and drug border security. Leaders from federal and state governments discussed their work to stop trafficking in heroin and other opioids across the southern border and overcome the addiction crisis.
"Our Voice, Our Future" seeks to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of addiction The drug crisis and the responsibility of those responsible.
The Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to fighting the opioid crisis. The Town Hall on Tuesday was streamed live on all Sinclair websites and will air again on several Sinclair stations.