New data show drug overdose deaths, suicides climbed at alarming rates in 2017

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New data show drug overdose and suicide deaths in the US climbed at alarming rates in 2017.

An analysis of CDC data by Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust found:

  • Last year, more than 47,000 Americans took their own lives.
  • Suicide accounted for 14 deaths per 100,000 in 2017 which, is up from 13.5 deaths per 100,000 in 2016
  • Drug overdose death rates were higher in 2017 compared to 2016 in 39 states which includes North Carolina. It had the nation’s fourth highest rate of increase at 22%.

Overdoses are an all-too-frequent problem in our region because of opioid abuse.
The Wilmington area is no stranger to the opioid epidemic.  It was once called the epicenter of the crisis.

The holidays can be triggers for drug users and a period of relapse. This issue is not defined by race, age or gender. It is impacting our entire community.

“In this office we have over 300 people enrolled in our opioid treatment program, and we see on average 3 and 4 people a day,” said Pamela Morrison, the Program Director at Coastal Horizons.

The center provides resources to help any opioid abuse victims.

“We offer therapy, substance use disorder intensive out patient treatment, med management and medication assistance treatment for people with opioid use disorder,” said Morrison. “We also have an opioid quick response team.”

Morrison says they offer individualized treatment options for all victims. This can include individual, group and family therapy.

“We really encourage people to just walk in, if someone has an opiod use disorder and they want treatment.” she said. “We want to see them as soon as they are able to come in.”

Margaret Bordeaux also works with opioid abusers as the Link to Care Coordinator at NC Harm Reduction in Wilmington.

“Many people who work in roles such as this understand how important it is for us to engage with people who require these services,” said Bordeaux.

Bordeaux says in an average week she interacts with about 50 opioid users.

Morrison says we need to reduce the stigma and reduce the judgement against drug abusers.

“This isn’t an epidemic that is limited in its scope and it really does take us all working as a community in partnership with each other to come to a solution,” said Morrison.

She said we need to open up our hearts and minds to those who are dealing with drug abuse and help them.

Categories: Local, New Hanover