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Oak Island murder case may point to county drug problem

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The search warrant served at one teen's home, charged with murdering an Oak Island man, revealed crystal meth and drug paraphernalia. Experts say this case points to a growing drug problem in Brunswick County. State buget cuts have closed substance abuse clinics one of them in Brunswick County. Residents say drugs are on the rise, and counselors say addicts have fewer places to get help. "I definitely think there is a drug problem in Brunswick County, I just don't think there's enough man power to do enough about it," Bruswick County resident Teresa Koval said. Drug counselors say that's exactly the problem. According to Tab Ballis, a substance abuse counselor, only a few counseling centers remain in the county. That's after South Eastern Center for Mental Health closed last year due to state budget cuts. Ballis says as the population expands treating people with drug problems may become more difficult. "I think that they have to drive further to get services because the office in Brunswick County did close," Tab Ballis, a substance abuse counselor said. Less treatment may equal and more crime. Police say the two men charged with Phillip Cook's murder in Oak Island were originally arrested on drug charges. While drugs are a problem everywhere, counselors say without a facility to treat drug users, the problem only gets worse. "If there are fewer substance abuse services being administered in this state, crime and incarceration should increase proportionately," Ballis said. Ballis says between 70 to 80 percent of prison inmates were under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they were arrested.

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