JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Jacksonville is ranked the 12th worst city in the nation for opioid abuse.
The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with residents and other law enforcement agencies in a coalition called Heroin Opioid Prevention Education.
“It’s been very beneficial to work with the citizens, with the law enforcement, and increase public awareness that there is a drug problem,” said Sheriff Hans Miller, Onslow County.
Substance abuse prevention expert Kelli Knapp said light punishments for dealers adds to the issue in our area.
“We need to have tougher penalties for people that are selling drugs,” explained Kelli Knapp, Coastal Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention board chair. “I think that a slap on the wrist that some of them get sometimes doesn’t deter anyone. It may entice more dealers to come in and put more people at risk.”
Knapp said addiction often starts with the abuse of prescription drugs.
In the past week alone, the sheriff’s office made multiple heroin-related arrests.
Sheriff Miller said he’s working toward a goal of getting drug dealers off of the streets permanently, “I would like to see a three strikes and you’re out. So if somebody continues to peddle drugs for a long time, they should go away for a long time.”
However, he said, in order to be successful, it has to be a community effort, “If we can continue to increase the awareness, maybe we can reduce and help the problem go away.”