Governor Cooper, Secretary Cohen announce Opioid Action Plan for N.C.

DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., and Dr. Susan Kansagra, discuss the North Carolina Opioid Action Plan to close out the summit.

DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., and Dr. Susan Kansagra, left, discuss the North Carolina Opioid Action Plan to close out the summit.

June 30, 2017  Governor Roy Cooper and DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., unveiled North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan this week at the Opioid Misuse and Overdose Prevention Summit.

Opioid overdose has claimed more than 12,000 lives in North Carolina since 1999. From 1999 to 2016, unintentional opioid overdose deaths increased tenfold. In 2016, opioid-related deaths in North Carolina were up by 20 percent from the previous year. If the trend continues, in 2021 North Carolina could see 1,500 lives lost per year to unintentional opioid overdose.

“Turning the tide on the opioid epidemic requires multi- faceted, collaborative action across the health, law enforcement, education, business, non-profit and government sectors. This plan outlines key actions that will have impact and metrics for measuring our progress,” said Secretary Cohen.

The goal of the Opioid Action Plan is to change the trajectory of this epidemic and reduce expected opioid overdose deaths by 20 percent by 2021.

“The intent of the plan is to catalogue specific, tangible, achievable steps that will have the greatest impact on the opioid epidemic and the partners in North Carolina that are engaging in this work,” said Dr. Susan Kansagra.

Strategies outlined in the plan include:

  • Reducing the oversupply of prescription opioids.
  • Reducing the diversion of prescription drugs and the flow of illicit drugs.
  • Increasing community awareness and prevention.
  • Making life-saving naloxone widely available and linking overdose survivors to care.
  • Expanding treatment and recovery systems of care.
  • Measuring impact and revising 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 progress advances on the epidemic and new issues and solutions arise.

“The plan is specific enough to make a difference, but broad enough to be changeable based on our evolving needs,” said Mark Ezzell, Executive Director, Addiction Professionals of North Carolina.

Dan Guy