Resource officers are now the only ones to carry Narcan in Wake schools. Can this change?

Three years ago, Sophia Walsh was returning home after a fun weekend with friends river rafting in Boone.

On the drive back, she stopped at an acquaintance’s house to use the bathroom and get something to drink. An innocent act that had deadly consequences.

The water bottle she found in the refrigerator was poisoned with a dissolved fentanyl pill, according to investigators. An autopsy report found Walsh had 8.4 nanograms of fentanyl in her system, enough to kill four people.

Walsh overdosed on the drug. She was 24 years old.

Samantha Brawley, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, shows off the NARCAN nasal sprays and Fentanyl test strips that she carries while traveling in and around the Cherokee Indian Reservation where she offers support to people struggling with addiction. Ten percent of the tribe’s members received a substance-abuse diagnosis in 2012, the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority reported in 2017.

Her family and friends remember the Apex High School and Appalachian State graduate as a passionate foodie, chef and nature lover, often photographing animals, plants and flowers.

“This individual did not have naloxone in their home and did not call 911,” said her mother, Barbara, in an interview. “It was not Sophia’s choice to die, and it was not her choice to ingest fentanyl.”

Since her daughter’s death, Barbara Walsh, has been raising awareness about fentanyl emergencies and working to increase the availability of the nasal spray drug naloxone, or Narcan, which reverses a drug overdose in two minutes. Her organization, Fentanyl Victims of North Carolina, highlights the many young people and their families affected by losses like her own.

Some leaders and advocates say the limited access to life-saving medication in schools should be expanded. Beyond school resource officers, advocates say, teachers, staff, school nurses and even students should have access to and be trained to administer the drug in case of an emergency.

“What is happening today is different than what happened 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. It’s different than when I grew up,” Walsh said. “We were able to experiment and live. Today, that’s not always the case. The stigma some people have about (drugs) is from another era.”

In Wake County, 1,499 people died from drug emergencies from 2013 to 2023, according to the N.C. State Center for Health Statistics. Of that number, 867 — or 58% of the deaths — involved fentanyl. Statewide, more than 36,000 people died from drug misuse from 2000-22.

The synthetic opioid created in the 1960s is often prescribed for pain, and studies show it is 100 times more powerful than morphine. Many young people encounter fentanyl when experimenting with marijuana, Adderall, heroin, cocaine or other pills like ecstasy or Xanax.

Continue reading “Resource officers are now the only ones to carry Narcan in Wake schools. Can this change?”

‘I don’t see how it ends’: expert sounds alarm on new wave of US opioids crisis

Dr Art Van Zee set out in the early 2000s to tell anyone who would listen how a powerful opioid was destroying lives. Two decades later, he’s still in disbelief

When Dr Art Van Zee finally understood the scale of the disaster looming over his corner of rural Virginia, he naively imagined the drug industry would be just as alarmed.

So the longest serving doctor in the struggling former mining town of St Charles set out in the early 2000s to tell pharmaceutical executives, federal regulators, Congress and anyone else who would listen that the arrival of a powerful new opioid painkiller was destroying lives and families, and laying the ground for a much bigger catastrophe.

Two decades later, as Van Zee surveys the devastation caused by OxyContin and the epidemic of opioid addiction it unleashed, he is still in disbelief at the callous indifference to suffering as one opportunity after another was missed to stop what has become the worst drug epidemic in US history.

But the 76-year-old doctor is also shocked that the crisis has got so much worse than even he imagined as one fresh wave of narcotics after another dragged in new generations and drove the death toll ever higher.

“This region has been through a lot but the drug problem is the worst thing that’s ever happened in central Appalachia in terms of human cost and devastation to individuals and families. You’ve got all these families that came apart, children living with dysfunctional parents or went into foster care. Children who learned from their parents to take drugs from a young age. The devastation is going to go on for generations,” he said.

It didn’t have to happen. There were so many missed opportunities. So many times it could have been stopped. Now, I don’t see how it ends.”

As it turned out, the drug industry was alarmed by Van Zee’s warnings, but not in the way he expected. It saw the doctor as a threat to profits and so from the very beginning, big pharma responded by working to discredit Van Zee and others like him who rang the alarm on high strength opioids creating mass addiction.

Read the entire article on the The Guardian website.

NC State sophomore raises money to provide free Narcan to students

Sophomore Alyssa Price said she lost two friends to overdoses, and now she’s raising funds to provide free Narcan to students.

An NC State student is raising funds to help fight overdoses on campus.

Sophomore Alyssa Price said she lost two friends to overdoses, so she wanted to do something to help save others.

That’s why she is raising funds to provide Narcan – a medicine that reverses opioid overdose – free to students.

The university has increased resources after 14 students deaths, including two fatal overdoses, during the 2022-23 school year.

Price said this is one area where she felt she could do more.

“They created a bunch of preventative measures last year,” Price said. “But we did not have the part that was, ‘What if it happened?'”

She said she’s trying to help students be more prepared – and proactive – in the case of an emergency.

NC State prevention services does provide free Narcan kits to any campus community member – upon request. The university said it has distributed 744 kits throughout the past two years.

Price started a GofundMe to help raise money for her free Narcan initiative.

Read the full article and watch the video on the WRAL website.

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.

Continue reading “CMS acknowledges teen drug use, will stock all public schools with Narcan”

‘No person that is safe’: Families continue the fight against fentanyl during victim summit

MONROE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Fentanyl Victims Network met Saturday morning to continue the fight against the deadly drug taking over the nation.

Families who lost loved ones in the fentanyl poisoning shared their stories and pictures in hopes of uplifting each other.

Debbie Dalton was one of them.

“There is no demographic; there is no person that is safe from this evil that is taking our children,” said Dalton. 

In 2016, she lost her son Hunter to the drug after she said a good friend offered it to him.

“Hunter joked about it, like, ‘I don’t do this. I’m 23.’ He laughed about it. But unbeknownst to Hunter and his good friend, it was cut with fentanyl, and it gave my 6’2″ son a heart attack. He didn’t stand a chance against it. He was so strong that he survived for six days, and I held his hand, but he never regained consciousness,” Dalton said.

In his memory, she started the Hunter Dalton HD Life Foundation. Her mission now is to spare other families from going through the same heartache.

North Carolina is fourth in the nation in fentanyl deaths, but only 10th in population. Between September 2013 and September 2023, over 1600 people died from the drug in Gaston, Mecklenburg, and Union counties.

Continue reading “‘No person that is safe’: Families continue the fight against fentanyl during victim summit”

Fentvic Billboard Campaign 4

Jelly Roll urges Congress to pass anti-fentanyl trafficking legislation: “It is time for us to be proactive”

Rapper-turned-country singer Jelly Roll spoke about the importance of prioritizing the fentanyl crisis at a Senate hearing on Thursday. 

The musician, whose real name is Jason DeFord, testified before the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio.

Jelly Roll urged Congress to pass Brown’s Fentanyl Eradication and Narcotics Deterrence (FEND) Off Fentanyl Act, which would wield financial sanctions against drug traffickers to disrupt the flow of opioids coming in from China and Mexico. 

Jelly Roll, who from the age of 14 spent 10 years in and out of detention facilities for drug dealing and other crimes, said he was part of the problem but now wants to be part of the solution. 

“I brought my community down. I hurt people,” he testified. “I was the uneducated man in the kitchen playing chemists with drugs I knew absolutely nothing about, just like these drug dealers are doing right now when they’re mixing every drug on the market with fentanyl. And they’re killing the people we love.”

Sen. Brown cited data showing 110,000 Americans died due to unintentional drug overdoses in 2022.

Read the full article and watch the video on the CBS News website.

Do youth anti-drug campaigns actually work?

Programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and in Charlotte use modern slang to communicate a timeless message: Drugs can kill.

Students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now have access to free kits that revive someone suffering an opioid overdose and test strips to see what the drugs they are about to take contain.

These steps, which assume students are using drugs, are designed to save lives, but prompt the question: Will the tactics work for today’s students?

Riley Sullivan, the group’s cofounder and director, believes the kits will actually help reduce drug use on campus. He said the group has handed out about 900 naloxone kits and 500 fentanyl test strips this semester alone.

In Charlotte, a public awareness campaign called “Street Pills Kill” uses the slang of youth to convey the same message. The phrases are the new generation of “just say no” or “above the influence.”

“No cap, those pills are sus.”

Young people use the words “no cap” to say they are telling the truth or they aren’t lying. To use the word “cap” would mean someone is lying.

“Sus” is short for suspicious.

Another sign says: “you plus street pills equals … we don’t ship.”

“Ship” means you want two people to date or enter a romantic relationship.

The language is how kids speak nowadays, but will they listen to the kind of messaging?

Remember McGruff the Crime Dog or the “this is your brain on drugs” ad of a man cracking an egg on a skillet?

You might also remember other campaigns like “truth”and “DARE” to name a few.

Continue reading “Do youth anti-drug campaigns actually work?”

2023 child Fentanyl deaths reach record high in North Carolina

Data from the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force indicates nearly three dozen children under the age of 17 died from fentanyl in 2022.

Nearly three dozen North Carolina children died from fentanyl in 2022, marking another record high in childhood deaths from the deadly substance.

Ten children under 6 years old and 25 teenagers between 13 and 17 years old died from the drug, according to data presented to the unintentional death prevention committee of the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force on Thursday. The task force didn’t present data on children between 6 and 12.

In 2021, 11 young children and 14 teens died from fentanyl. In 2015, it was one for teens.

“We have a problem,” said Michelle Aurelius, the chief medical examiner for the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. “It is reflected not only nationally, but here in North Carolina. We’re in trouble.”

In 2022, there were 4,243 suspected overdose deaths in North Carolina, according to the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In 2023, through November, there were 3,853 suspected overdose deaths.

Deaths among adolescents often stem from them choosing to take drugs, including fentanyl.

Continue reading “2023 child Fentanyl deaths reach record high in North Carolina”

Sheriffs’ Association honors Sen. Britt for supporting safety

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (NCSA) has recognized Sen. Danny Britt as a 2023 Defender of Public Safety for the important work done during the 2023 legislative session to protect public safety in North Carolina.

“During a session that saw a heavy concentration of law enforcement and public safety related bills, Britt dedicated time and effort during the session advocating for law enforcement issues important to the Association which impact the office of sheriff, local communities and the State, according to a prepard swtement from the association.

“Senator Britt has been a valuable partner in the recent legislative session, supporting the legislative priorities of the North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association which is a voice for all 100 sheriffs in the State,” said Sheriff Darren Campbell, president of the association. “As a result, our sheriffs have new tools we can use to protect our communities such as new laws intended to protect our electric power grid, stop dangerous street takeovers by motor vehicle gangs and some which will allow us to better address the growing fentanyl crisis many of us see in our communities. We are better equipped today than we were yesterday to protect the lives, liberties, and property of North Carolina’s citizens.”

Britt’s legislative district is served by Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins, Hoke County Sheriff Roderick Virgil and Scotland County Sheriff Ralph Kersey.

During the 2023 legislative session, the General Assembly considered hundreds of bills and enacted dozens of laws that had a direct impact on law enforcement and public safety in North Carolina, according to the association. The 2024 session is expected to begin in April and will likely see many additional law enforcement and public safety related bills.

Read the full article on the Bladen Journal website.

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