‘We are in the business of saving lives’ | NC leaders seeking solutions to the fentanyl crisis

State and local leaders held a press conference Wednesday to highlight strategies to mitigate the fentanyl epidemic in Mecklenburg County.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, Attorney General Josh Stein and other federal, state, and Charlotte leaders are seeking solutions to the fentanyl crisis.

Sheriff McFadden hosted a press conference Wednesday at the Mecklenburg County Detention Center in order to highlight some of the work done to combat the rise in fentanyl-related deaths.

According to the United States Department of Justice, the number of fentanyl seizures in 2024 represents over 82 million deadly doses.

Around 10 people die in North Carolina every day because of fentanyl, according to Stein. 

During the press conference, leaders discussed efforts by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office to train staff members on administering Narcan. These efforts saved over a dozen lives this past year. 

“People are dying from this drug thinking that they’re taking something simple, but it’s laced with fentanyl,” Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden said.

Also, in November of 2023, the Arrest Processing Center lobby received a Narcan vending machine, which is accessible to anyone. Additionally, Sheriff McFadden installed 39 Narcan alarm boxes that were placed in resident pods.

“Should Narcan be in schools? Absolutely. In every classroom? Absolutely. At every nightclub? Absolutely, why? Because we are in the business of saving lives,” Sheriff McFadden said. 

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CMS acknowledges teen drug use, will stock all public schools with Narcan

Narcan is the FDA-approved nasal form of naloxone for the emergency treatment of a known or suspected opioid overdose. News & Observer file photo

Teens and drugs. The phrase has long gone together, but, nowadays, each puff passed, pill crushed and line sniffed threatens death, not a shaking finger.

In response to the bleak reality students face — where deadly opioids like fentanyl are easy to get and even harder to escape — the overdose reversal drug naloxone will soon be stocked in every Charlotte public school.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the plan Tuesday, which was the first time the district openly addressed the topic of drug use among students.

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How to get Narcan, the drug used to reverse opioid overdoses, for free 24/7

It can save your life, and it’s free.

A vending machine stocked with free Narcan — a life-saving opioid reversal nasal spray — will now sit inside the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office, available for use 24/7.

The installment, tucked next to a Coca-Cola vending machine in the Detention Center’s lobby, comes after a 20% increase in fentanyl overdoses reported by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Fentanyl — an opioid often laced in other drugs, like pain pills, or distributed on its own — is 100 times more potent than morphine, and even a small amount of it can be deadly.

As it becomes easily available — routinely popping up in the detention center, on streets and even in schools — Sheriff Garry McFadden hopes to make access to Narcan as easy as possible.

“We want to encourage all people, whether they personally use substances or not, to carry the life-saving drug,” wrote MCSO Public Information Officer Bradley Smith.

Naloxone, the fast-acting medicine in Narcan that reverses an opioid overdose, is considered safe to use even if drug use is suspected but later found to not be the case. Earlier this year, federal regulators took action to make 4 mg Narcan nasal spray available over-the-counter without a prescription for about $50.

In collaboration with Carolinas CARE Partnership Rx ACE (CCP), McFadden said offering the drug will be “a pivotal step in our efforts to combat the ongoing fentanyl crisis.”

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