JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Local leaders in the community and law enforcement came together for an Opioid Roundtable on Tuesday.
With April the Month of the Military Child, the roundtable zeroed in on the effects on military and civilian families
“It’s a younger population, where many of them have been to war, experienced injuries and pain so they’ve gotten prescription opioids and it doesn’t take long to become addicted,” Attorney General Josh Stein said.
He says military members are three times as likely to battle addiction as regular citizens.
Stein says combatting substance abuse disorder requires a three-pronged approach focusing on prevention, treatment, and enforcement.
Leaders from Camp Lejeune were also on hand to join in the discussion, and point out that this issue isn’t singular to the military.
“Pain absolutely must be addressed within an exam but let’s make sure we have alternatives we can give versus an opioid,” Captain James Hancock, Commanding Officer of Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, said.
Jacksonville Police Chief Michael Yaniero says part of the addiction problem is intertwined with the lack of treatment facilities in the county.
“The lines are blurred between addiction and mental health, and we have such a void of services in this community,” Chief Yaniero said. “We have to address those.”
Jacksonville Police made 2000 drug arrests last year. And since the start of 2017, officers have used Narcan/Naloxone, a drug used to treat overdose victims, a total of 24 times.
Former addict Brent Riggs attended the roundtable to offer his perspective. He battled an opioid addiction that led to using heroin for nearly 10 years.
“I couldn’t fill the void in my life with anything but drugs,” Riggs said. “That’s really what it came down too. I’d always resort back to drugs.”
Riggs decided to get clean at the Alpha & Omega Home in Chinquapin. And now, he wants to help others battling addictions.
“Take time to just separate from the world, the distractions and anything that can discourage you,” he said. “Because those things aren’t that important.”
Currently, before the General Assembly is the Strengthen Opioid Misuse Prevention, or STOP, Act. If passed, it will add restrictions to prescribing and dispensing opioid drugs like oxycontin and create funds for treating opioid abusers and helping them get clean. The Act is currently in the Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee.
Stein has crisscrossed the state for several roundtables on the subject. He’s heading to the western part of the state to continue his discussion. His office will create a manual for dealing with the crisis after he completes his tour.