NC Continues to Fight Opioid Epidemic

We’ve talked about the opioid epidemic beforeseveral times. And we’re here to talk about it again.

Why?

Because North Carolina has one of the worst opioid abuse problems in the country. Ninety-one Americans die every day from opioid overdoses.

That’s not okay.

 

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So, what is opioid abuse?

Opioids are a class of drug that include illegal drugs like heroin, as well as synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and prescription pain relievers available by a legal prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine.

Opioids aren’t inherently “bad,” but because they provide pain relief, as well as a sense of euphoria, it is tempting to misuse (or overuse) them and addiction can follow.

Wilmington, North Carolina was ranked as having the highest rates of opioid abuse in America. Over 11 percent of all Wilmington residents abuse opioids. (That means if you had 10 friends, there’s a high chance that one of them is misusing opioids. Let that sink in.)

How it costs us

Addiction is serious. It can cost people their health, personal relationships or sense of self-worth. Addiction treatment can also cost a lot of money.

A 2016 FAIR Health study found that opioid-related treatment caused a sharp rise in the cost of health insurance over the last five years. FAIR Health found that the cost of medical charges for opioid patients grew from $72 million in 2011 to $722 million in 2015. (That’s a whopping 1,000 percent increase.)

Medical services such as office visits and lab tests for patients with an opioid dependency also rose from roughly 217,000 in 2007 to about 7 million in 2014.

And as the basic economic law of supply and demand teaches us, the higher the demand, the costlier things become — especially things like healthcare.

What NC is doing about it

As we’ve mentioned, addiction doesn’t just affect your physical and financial health; it can affect your mental and emotional health, too. It touches not only the people who are struggling with addiction, but their friends and family, employers, healthcare professionals, and our justice system, too.

While there’s no quick-fix to an epidemic this big, there are some immediate things policymakers can do to address the crisis. The Governing Institute recently released a handbook that outlines ways legislators can tackle the opioid problem, as well as details efforts that have already been taken.

In North Carolina, House Bill 243 would limit the number of days that a doctor can give opioid pain pills. (The Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention Act creates exceptions for cancer and hospice patients and people with documented chronic pain.) The bill essentially says that patients can get refills after their initial prescription, but mandates that healthcare providers report opioid prescriptions they write to North Carolina’s controlled substances reporting system (CSRS) within a day of prescribing the drug. Governor Roy Cooper just signed the bill into law.

Opioid abuse can cost you both your physical and fiscal health, and that affects the quality of life for everyone in our state. Policymakers must do something to alleviate this epidemic before it does more damage – to all of us. This handbook, as well as other proactive measures, can help.

Around here, both your financial and physical health are important to us. We think North Carolina can lower healthcare costs by rolling back state-based mandates that drive up insurance costs for everyone. That way, if and when you do need to see a doctor, you can afford to. Want to fight alongside us? Join us!

 

Showing 5 reactions

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  • commented 2017-07-12 19:13:30 -0400
    I think there are some flaws in this plan! This particular restriction is going to be very time consuming for prescriber’s, and limiting their quantities is going to be ineffective! Prescriber’s can already look up a person’s prescription history and that has proven to have little effect on the problem! Many doctors don’t utilize this registry and if they do not it won’t prevent anyone from doctor hopping! If they need their fix they will go to Florida, Kentucky or West Virginia! How will this help that! The root of the problem needs to be fiercely addressed! That being HELP! I am in no way defending these folks, but addiction is a serious Disease! Many of then got here due to poor medical care! Treatment for addiction is very limited and costly and many of them a JOKE..I.E…Methadone clinics! Methadone clinic’s were intended for detox, but that took too much effort so they just replaced one addiction for another and sadly so many don’t understand what they are doing! NC needs money for treatment and rehab centers! Long-term in patient treatment centers, enough so people don’t die from an overdose waiting to get in one!! These people are fixable! But it requires resources and money to do so! Another registry is not the solution!
  • commented 2017-07-10 20:57:33 -0400
    Its a proven fact that if u legalize marijuana the opioid usage would drop
  • commented 2017-06-30 19:24:08 -0400
    WOW!!! so when they don’t get them off street oh well let’s just go to methodon clinic. All u doing Cooper is trading one for another . Get a HANDLE ON THIS AND GO TRUMP.
  • commented 2017-06-30 13:37:16 -0400
    Wish the Govenor would be as concerned about those fighting cancer, who need these pain meds without the added hassles of constantly having to pick up Rx’s as he is about addicts who are willingly and knowingly killing themselves. There are no free drugs offered to cancer patients like Narcan is to addicts, no free treatment centers to help cancer patients “get through it”, no free counseling centers… and while cancer patients are bankrupting themselves and their families just to try and stay alive, Gov. Cooper is spending time and resources on a group of people consciously and knowingly committed to their own demise.
  • commented 2017-06-29 19:42:59 -0400
    1: how does this help those with chronic pain ?
    2: you do realize that if people are in need of medication for chronic pain & you limit their access they are way more likely to turn to street accessible narcotics & opioids right?

    Gee if there were only a sustainable plant that had extremely low addictive qualities, impossible to overdose on & had a whole host of other medical applications like treating sleep disorders, PTSD, anxiety, depression, aided chemo patients in maintaining weight & managing pain, etcetera etcetera etcetera…

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