Growing concerns over rising overdose deaths across North Carolina

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — North Carolina saw nearly 4,000 overdose deaths in 2021 — nearly 900 more than 2020.

While there are a number of causes for the spike, Buffy Taylor with Coastal Horizons says the pandemic has played a big role.

“Financial stress and isolation has just left people feeling pretty hopeless and has exacerbated their mental health issues,” Taylor said.

Taylor says the overdose crisis isn’t just impacting those who are dying but also those around them.

“It’s so dangerous and just really devastating to the families in our community and just our community at large,” Taylor added.

One person who knows first hand the impacts of an overdose death is Don Flattery, who lost a child to an opioid overdose several years ago.

He says the issue has only gotten worse.

“When I lost my son in 2014, I think the nation had about 35,000 opioid overdose deaths,” Flattery said. “I think we’re now approaching close to 100,000.”

Flattery says the impact of each of those numbers is far greater, affecting everyone close to them.

“We’re talking hundreds of thousands of people impacted every single day, every year,” Flattery said.

Buffy Taylor reminds everyone that help is available to those experiencing addiction issues, and that organizations like Coastal Horizons are here to help.

“We’re just trying to educate and let people know what the signs and symptoms are and reverse them and how they can get connected to treatment,” Taylor said.

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