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Attorney General Josh Stein met with local leaders to discuss opioid crisis. (Photo: Dustin Dorsey/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The opioid epidemic in Wilmington has captured the attention of state law makers. Today some powerful people came together to bring about change.

A meeting featured local and state representatives to find out what exactly is needed to end the crisis statewide, starting in Wilmington.

“It’s imperative that all of us, whether we’re at the state level, county level or city level, come up with solutions because we have to save lives.” North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said.

That’s why Attorney General Stein came to Wilmington to hold a roundtable discussion with local leaders to put a stop to the opioid epidemic happening in North Carolina.

Attorney General Stein calls Wilmington ground zero for this crisis. But with that distinction, he adds there’s a lot to learn from those in attendance.

“Clearly Wilmington and New Hanover are doing a lot of innovation to try and deal with this crisis,” Attorney General Stein said. “I wanted to come and learn about what’s happening in New Hanover County so I can take those lessons across the state.”

One of the lessons discussed is handling the treatment the correct way. Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous says some addicts are predisposed to addictive personality and throwing them in jail won’t help the issue. Mayor Bill Saffo agrees.

“We need to get them into treatment as quickly as we can, whether they have insurance or not,” Mayor Saffo said. “The reduction to the cost to the community is dramatic if we can get them into treatment as opposed to getting them back into the system where they spend a couple nights in jail, get out, and do it all over again.”

A way to do that is by the stop act. Attorney General Stein says it could help reduce addictions by limiting the number of opioids prescribed and helping people with addictive traits get the help they need. Attorney General Stein says he hopes the stop act will be heard this week by the House Health Committee and be voted on so it can go to the floor.

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