As opioid overdoses rise in NC, Wake schools looking to stock naloxone in all schools

The Wake school system hasn’t had any reported overdoses, but other school systems have.

Wake County school officials plan to recommend naloxone — the overdose reversal medication — in every school and a policy for staff on training and using it.

Superintendent Robert Taylor told the school board’s safety and security committee Tuesday that officials will come to the committee in April with a proposed policy and a timeline for getting naloxone in every school, early learning center and administrative office.

Naloxone is a prescription medication that reverses opioid overdoses. It targets opioid receptors in the body and blocks the effects of opioid drugs, restoring breathing in a person who has overdosed. It must be administered soon after an overdose has begun and only lasts a short time. It can be administered in several ways but is commonly administered as a nasal spray.

The Wake school system hasn’t had any reported overdoses, but other school systems have.

Last year, naloxone was administered 21 times for a suspected overdose at a North Carolina school, usually by a school resource officer.

The district wants to have naloxone in part because of rising opioid overdoses among 10- to 19-year-olds, said Kelly Creech, district senior director of health and crisis prevention services.

Across the state, school resource officers, not school employees, carry naloxone.

Any upcoming policy proposal would reflect training requirements for employees who want to be able to administer it.

On Tuesday, school board members asked questions about who would have the ability to administer naloxone.

Under state law, school systems must have permission from the state health director to allow non-medical employees to administer naloxone.

Most school systems don’t have a policy in place for school employees to administer naloxone. Of the 86 counties that responded to the state survey, 83 reported school resource officers carrying naloxone.

The school system wants two doses in about 200 schools, early learning centers and central services offices. The average dose lasts between two and three years.

Read the full article on the WRAL TV5 News website.

https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.621.0_en.html#goog_1699690865

Families, teams hurting from suspected drug-related deaths of 2023 Heritage, Bunn grads

A pair of recent Triangle-area high school graduates who were friends linked through their love of baseball died over the weekend.

Two young men who were friends and shared a love of baseball died over the weekend, devastating families and teammates.

Wilson Moore, a 2023 graduate of Heritage High, and Jacob Cope, who graduated from Bunn High in 2023, both passed away on Saturday.

Both Moore and Cope played on a travel baseball team and their respective high school teams before graduating. The two met through work and developed a friendship. The sudden nature of their deaths shocked and saddened friends and family in recent days.

Moore’s GoFundMe said the family suspects Moore died from “accidental substance poisoning.” Cope, 18, also has a GoFundMe to support his family.

Rolesville police are investigating. A toxicology report has not been finalized.

Continue reading “Families, teams hurting from suspected drug-related deaths of 2023 Heritage, Bunn grads”

Family navigates grief a year after son’s death

Barry and Lisa Bennett hold a graduation photo of their son, 22-year-old Mason Bennett, who died a year ago Thursday. Olivia Neeley | Times

After a fleeting moment of peace each morning, it doesn’t take long for the gut-wrenching reality to set in for Lisa Bennett.

“When you go to sleep and you wake up … you have this brief second where you think everything is fine and (then) it hits you over and over again, day after day,” she said through tears.

For Bennett, her reality is facing yet another day without her 22-year-old son, Mason Bennett. Thursday marks the first anniversary of his death. Bennett contends he died after taking what he believed was a 30 mg Percocet, a prescription painkiller.

“It wasn’t a Percocet,” Bennett said. “It was a pressed pill, which is mostly what’s being sold now. There was nothing else in it other than cocaine and fentanyl.”

Eight months after Mason’s death, Wilson police charged 21-year-old Claire Brittle in connection with his death. Brittle faces a felony death by distribution charge as well as several drug-related charges.

Police said Brittle was “responsible for selling the victim narcotics at the time of his death,” according to a Wilson Police Department press release. When police arrested Brittle in October, they found various drugs in her home, including “85 dosage units of pressed Percocet pills,” according to arrest warrants.

Brittle was also charged with felony possession of a Schedule II controlled substance. Arrest warrants indicate that charge relates to fentanyl possession.

Continue reading “Family navigates grief a year after son’s death”

Fentanyl victims advocacy group holds educational, networking event in Lexington

LEXINGTON, N.C. —

A group of people who lost family members to fentanyl held an educational advocacy and networking event in Lexington.

On Saturday, the group “Fentvic” came together to start safety conversations within the community about the dangers of illicit fentanyl.

The group said they want to focus on counterfeit pressed pills, like Adderall, Xanax, and Percocet, as well as the access of life-saving naloxone in schools and the community.

Participants at the event had the option to bring posters of their family members to honor their loved ones they have lost to fentanyl abuse.

CDC data has ranked North Carolina 4th in the nation in fentanyl-related deaths last year. North Carolina data also shows a combined 2,615 fentanyl deaths between 2013 and Sept. 2023.

For more information on Fentvic and to see any of their upcoming events throughout North Carolina, visit their website here.

Read the full article and watch the video on the WXII News 12 website.

Davidson County families work to fight fentanyl together

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Eight people in North Carolina die every day, because of fentanyl, according to the North Carolina Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

On Saturday, people who have lost someone to the deadly drug met other families, public officials, health advocates and law enforcement in Davidson County to work together to fight the fentanyl crisis.

“We want to educate people on this,” said Mike Loomis, a founder of Race Against Drugs.

Mike and his wife, Lorie started Race Against Drugs to be a support for families, after they lost their son, James. “You can’t get over something like that, it complete changes your life and we don’t want another parent to lose their child to drugs laced with fentanyl,” Lorie said.

Continue reading “Davidson County families work to fight fentanyl together”

‘We’re tired of telling parents that their children are dead due to fentanyl use’ | UCSO works to fight fentanyl crisis

Union County is working to get fentanyl test results back sooner.

MONROE, N.C. — WCNC Charlotte is putting a face to the fentanyl crisis. 

Recent trends show it’s killing people who don’t even know they’re taking it. 

A deadly dose is as small as the size of Abraham Lincoln’s cheek on a penny. 

Now, the Union County Sheriff’s Office is working to crack down on the drug, which is greatly impacting families.

“He just really had a special heart,” Union County resident Linda Hibbets said.

Hibbets, raised her grandson, 18-year-old Brian Terrano. He grew up loving adventures, sports, and anything to do with Gatlinburg. After a trip there, the next morning he was supposed to go to school. 

“I told my husband to help me get him off the bed, and I did CPR, I’m an RN, and I couldn’t save my grandson and that was really hard,” Hibbets said. “I’ve saved others, but I couldn’t save him, he was gone.”   

It’s a story UCSO Lieutenant James Maye has heard too often. 

Continue reading “‘We’re tired of telling parents that their children are dead due to fentanyl use’ | UCSO works to fight fentanyl crisis”

INSIDE LOOK: Union County crime lab’s crucial role in putting criminals behind bars quicker

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Union County is working to speed up justice with its crime lab and newly accredited FIELDS of evidence, which means faster results while putting criminals behind bars and getting innocent people out.

Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz spoke with forensic chemists, crime scene investigators, and law enforcement officers on Thursday about the work they are doing, which is helping to cut back on the state lab’s backlog.

The digital forensic lab has equipment used to analyze things, such as text messages, which could lead to an arrest.

“It’s key for us to create a timeline of that victim’s last hours and this room does a great job of providing us that,” said Lt. James Maye.

The work in the digital forensic lab can help in cases of fentanyl poisoning to identify drug dealers.

“This evidence is used to determine which source provided the narcotics that ended the life of a victim,” Maye said.

The crime lab’s most recent accreditation was in the fall of 2023, which allowed officials to process fingerprints and blood alcohol testing on-site.

The blood alcohol analysis, which could be crucial in a DWI arrest, starts there where vials are filled and prepped for testing.

“The alcohol that’s in the blood will slowly go into the air above the sample,” said forensic chemist, Dayla Rich.

“So, you test not the blood, but the air that is coming out of it?” Goetz asked.

“Correct,” said Rich.

Running those tests in-house can provide results weeks or even months faster. Other local law enforcement agencies can use the lab too.

“Sheriff (Eddie) Cathey is encouraging everyone to bring us your phones, your blood, anything we can do to get criminals off the street bring it to us we’ll take care of it,” said Lt. Maye.

In the coming months, they’re hoping to be accredited in other fields of evidence analysis, including DNA, blood drug toxicology, and seized drugs.

The lab will not conduct autopsies on-site. That will be the responsibility of the regional medical examiner’s office.

The Union County Sheriff’s Office hopes to eventually do postmortem-blood-drug testing for death by distribution cases.

Read the full article and watch the video on the WSOC TV9 website.

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.

TRAVIS LONG • TLONG@NEWSOBSERVER.COM
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?”

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”