The good news is that the North Carolina opioid overdose rate is down from last year. The bad news is that it’s not down by much. According to Injury Free NC (see below), Tar Heel State Emergency Departments treated 531 opioid overdoses in August ’19. That’s down from 585 over the same month last year. But that’s still 531 too many.
North Carolina Opioid Overdose Impact
Again, the news is good. But not good enough. Not by a long shot. Either for those addicted to opioids. Or for the community at large. In fact, Injury Free NC’s latest data shows the opioid crisis continues to somehow, some way affect each and every single member of the state. It also affects every sector.
Yes, there’s still work to be done. But the numbers prove that we’re on the right track. The increasing availability of Narcan is preventing opioid overdoses from becoming fatal. The increasing availability of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is keeping people from overdosing to begin with. In other words, lives are being saved, as well as restored. And that’s nothing but good.
Rockingham County Overdose Rate
Rockingham County, of course, is not immune. Granted year-to-date opioid overdose emergency department visits declined to 64 (from 86 in 2018), but that’s still 64 people too many. The number also doesn’t take into considerations the families that have been affected, let alone the impact opioid overdose has on the community.
That year-to-date rate also doesn’t take into consideration the number of opioid overdoses that weren’t reported to authorities. Narcan-related overdose incidents could easily double that figure. That means well over a hundred of your very neighbors could have died from opioid overdoses. Some even did die.
What’s Injury Free NC?
Injury Free NC falls under the purview of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and consists of injury prevention experts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Injury Prevention Research Center, the NC Division of Public Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Branch and other interested stakeholders.
IFNC’s stated goal is to “provide the best science about injury and violence, [and to put forth] prevention strategies. Its focus is “on improving population-level health” throughout the state. And it employs the latest, consensus-driven information to do so.
While that information is provided to the public, it’s primarily designed for the state’s Injury and Violence Prevention State Advisory Council, a group of partners tasked with implementing North Carolina’s State Plan for Preventing Injuries and Violence.
Why does North Carolina need its own community of injury prevention professionals? One, because injuries and violence are largely preventable public health problems. And two because there still is little time, attention, or funding devoted to these issues. In fact, injuries and violence are the leading cause of death for 75% of North Carolina’s population. And if that doesn’t call for prioritization, well, what does?
ALEF applauds Injury Free NC’s concerted and considerable efforts, especially vis-a-vis the North Carolina opioid overdose rate. The opioid epidemic has decimated far too much of the Tar Heel State, and we welcome any and all prevention strategies. Like IFNC, we’re driven by data — and geared toward results. The more NC stakeholders align, the better the outcomes for everyone.