Overdoses up in Cape Fear Area as many battle seasonal depression


NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Following the most wonderful time of year comes arguably the worst time of the year.

Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder, can look different for everyone, and people cope with it differently.

“The holidays are in the review mirror. It’s cold, it’s dreary. People aren’t getting out as much. They’re isolating more so that means increased depression, especially around this time of year,” Coastal Horizons Therapist and Quick Response Team Supervisor Buffy Taylor said.

For some, the coping mechanism comes in the form of substance use. In the month of December, Brunswick County saw eight more overdoses in 2022 than in 2021.

It’s unfortunately a similar story in New Hanover County.

“Through the holidays, typically our numbers are lower and they have doubled,” Taylor said.

According to Taylor, the Quick Response Team typically responds to around 12 overdoses per month, but in December they responded to 28.

While the increase in numbers could partially be credited to mental health issues, Taylor says there is another factor at play.

“The increase in fentanyl and there’s a decrease in actual heroin, so it is all a chemical derivative of what people are seeking and able to obtain,” she said.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid. According to the CDC,  it is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

It is prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, but it is also illicitly manufactured and distributed to give a heroin-like effect.

If you are struggling, you don’t have to face it alone.

“Most people need some type of treatment and coming together with other people, which has been such a proven benefit to treatment and being around groups of people who can identify,” Taylor said.

Coastal Horizons provides a myriad of services including medically assisted treatment (MAT) and mental health counseling in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties.

The Brunswick County Commissioners will be discussing the disbursement of the county’s opioid settlement funds at Tuesday evening’s regular meeting.

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