Aug. 31 Is Overdose Awareness Day in North Carolina


Today is Overdose Awareness Day in North Carolina. Proclaimed by Governor Roy Cooper, we’re pausing today to remember loved ones lost to overdose and to learn what can be done to help those who struggle with substance use disorder. In 2016, four North Carolinians died each day from unintentional medication or drug overdose.
Working with partner agencies, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has taken steps to address the opioid crisis. In 2017 DHHS distributed 40,000 units of opioid reversal drug naloxone to first responders, families and friends to help save lives in the event of an opioid overdose; opioid prescriptions dispensed under Medicaid have decreased by 25 percent due to pharmacy policy changes and the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention (STOP) Act of 2017; and DHHS is using grant funds to increase the availability of medication assisted treatment for individuals with substance use disorder.
“We have taken important steps to fight the opioid epidemic, but addressing this crisis requires even more,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD. “Addiction is a chronic disease and we want to make sure that people have access to the treatment and care that they need not only to reverse an overdose but also to help get people on the road to recovery long before they reach that point.”
People with substance use disorder can get help by contacting their Local Management Entities-Managed Care Organization for assistance with treatment or recovery.
Among steps taken to address the crisis:

  • Over 2,000 individuals received medication-assisted treatment with the first year of federal funding. In accordance with Governor Cooper’s Executive Order No. 48, DHHS will use Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Centers for Disease Control grant funds that may be awarded to support efforts to combat opioid addiction through opioid prevention services, medication-assisted treatment and recovery-support activities for at least 5,000 individuals and to combat overdoses by purchasing additional naloxone.
  • A standing order in North Carolina authorizes licensed pharmacists across the state to dispense naloxone, the life-saving opioid overdose reversal drug, without an individual prescription. More information about the standing order for naloxone is available at
  • The North Carolina Good Samaritan/Naloxone Access Law protects people who ask for help from 911 or EMS because they are or someone else is having a drug overdose. The law also protects people who administer naloxone in good faith from a lawsuit.
  • Nearly 11,500 successful opioid reversals using naloxone have been reported by community members to the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition over the past five years.
  • There are more than 30 active syringe exchanges in North Carolina, which in addition to distributing unused sterile syringes and providing safe disposal methods for used syringes, offer overdose prevention and reversal education, health care services and treatment connections for people who inject or otherwise use drugs.

More information on DHHS’ NC Opioid Action Plan, which is aimed at turning the tide on the state’s opioid crisis, is available at