Author: Dan Guy
Governor Roy Cooper and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., kicked off the summit Tuesday morning and announced North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan.
June 30, 2017 — As the Opioid Misuse & Overdose Prevention Summit drew to a close Wednesday, participants took time to reflect on the two-day event that focused on engaging and educating the audience of more than 550 community leaders, teachers, first responders, social workers and healthcare workers on the opioid crisis in North Carolina.
Governor Roy Cooper and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D., kicked off the summit Tuesday morning and announced North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan. The plan is a living document that will be updated as progress is made on the opioid epidemic, and new issues and solutions arise.
The summit provided opportunities for advocates and professionals to learn about innovative policies and best practices to prevent opioid misuse and overdose. Sessions at the summit covered local, state and national efforts, social determinants, innovative policies, prevention strategies, harm reduction initiatives, and work with justice-involved populations.
“I am thoroughly impressed at the turnout. It’s impressive the amount of support that a summit like this is getting,” said Kurtis Taylor, Outreach Coordinator/Reentry Coordinator, Oxford House Inc.
Fred McClure, President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, had praise for the summit. “I think this has been very productive,” he said. “The panel on recovery was excellent. We need to be able to see what recovery looks like.”
The goals of the summit were 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.
Opioid overdose has claimed more than 12,000 lives in North Carolina since 1999. From 1999 to 2016. unintentional 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, by 2021 North Carolina could see 1,500 deaths per year to unintentional opioid overdose.
Governor Cooper opened the summit explaining the urgency and importance of needing to turn the tide on the opioid crisis. Secretary Cohen followed speaking about progress which has been made and sharing details of the Opioid Action Plan. Attorney General Josh Stein opened the second day of the conference talking about the complexity of the opioid epidemic and the different aspects needed around prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts.
“This conference has been terrific,” said Robin Huffman, Executive Director, North Carolina Psychiatric Association. “If we pull everybody together, we come up with good solutions.”
More information about the Opioid Action Plan is available at ncdhhs.gov/opioids.