Opioid overdose deaths drop for first time in 5 years


WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — For the first time in five years, the number of overdose deaths has dropped, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and one local organization is appreciative.

“Heart of Wilmington” hosted an International Overdose Awareness program Saturday. A dozen of community partners like Coastal Horizons and Rapid Response that aid in the fight to help those with addictions filled Greenfield Amphitheater.

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Co-founder Lee Houser says this organization started right at the heart of the opioid crisis about three years ago.

“We created a group called ‘Get the H Out of Wilmington’ on Facebook that quickly grew to over 5,000 members so “Get the H out of Wilmington” stands for “Get the Heroin out of Wilmington,” so when we saw how much interest there was in this community to help get rid of the opioid crisis we started the non-profit ‘Heart of Wilmington,'” Houser said.

Houser says he’s so passionate about this organization because he has lost friends from overdoses.

“I have lost many friends to addiction and overdose,” Houser said. “Also, recently, lost a friend on August 16th that I could not help even though we tried before, so I just want to prevent deaths.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services also reports emergency department visits also show a nearly 10% decrease.