Surge in drug overdoses reported in Greensboro

There have been at least fifteen drug overdoses in Greensboro within a span of two weeks, along with more than a dozen bodies discovered in that timeframe. According to police reports, the victims ranged drastically in age from teenagers to those in their nineties.

One of the victims, who overdosed in late September, overdosed again less than two weeks later. At least one other victim was listed as unhoused at the time of their overdose.

According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, the rate of medication and drug overdose deaths was 29.6 per 100,000 residents in Guilford County between 2017-21. Statewide, the rate was 27.6 per 100,000 residents. As for opioid overdose deaths, Guilford County had 24.4 deaths per 100,000 residents while the state had 22.7.

More than 4,000 people died from overdoses in 2021, NCDHHS reported, and “more than 77 percent of overdose deaths in the state likely involved fentanyl, often in combination with other substances.”

The number of retail opioid prescriptions dispensed in 2020 was 55.9 prescriptions per 100 residents. Statewide, the rate was 52.8 prescriptions per 100 residents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of drug overdose deaths nationally increased more than 16 percent from 2020-21, while opioid-involved death rates increased by more than 15 percent over the same time. More than 75 percent of the nearly 107,000 drug overdose deaths in 2021 involved an opioid. In the last decade, there has been a significant increase in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids, “particularly those involving illicitly manufactured fentanyl,” the CDC states. Fentanyl is a strong synthetic opioid which can be combined with other substances such as heroin, counterfeit pills and cocaine, so people may not even be aware that they are consuming it. The lethal dose of fentanyl is much smaller than other drugs — while the lethal dose of heroin is 100 mg, fentanyl’s is just two.

In August, WRAL reported on rising fentanyl deaths and drug usage in North Carolina. The Nash County Sheriff’s Office recently confiscated “enough fentanyl to kill every person in the county,” the report stated.

Need help?

If you are struggling with drug use, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s helpline is available at 1-800-662-4357 or go to their website. The national helpline is a free and confidential treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. Help is available in English and Spanish 24/7 every day of the year.

An opioid overdose requires immediate medical attention. SAMHSA and Minutes Matter have instructions on how to spot the signs of an opioid overdose and what to do.

Are you or someone else experiencing a mental health emergency? The cities of Winston-Salem and Greensboro have new programs.

If you live in Greensboro and are experiencing a mental health crisis, the city’s behavioral health response team (BHRT) team can help. BHRT is a team of clinical mental-health counselors, licensed clinical social-worker associates, police officers and a paramedic.

If you live in Winston-Salem and are experiencing a mental health crisis, call 911 and ask for the behavioral evaluation and response (BEAR) Team, the city’s police-free mental health response crew.

Opioid overdose reversal (Naloxone/Narcan) resources:

NEXT Distro provides free Naloxone, a medicine that quickly reverses an opioid overdose, and can mail to you.

In Winston-Salem, Narcan is available at the front desk of Forsyth County Department of Public Health located at 799 Highland Ave. Last September, the county installed a free Narcan vending machine inside the Forsyth County Detention Center.

Guilford County Department of Public Health offers free naloxone kits and instructions/training on its use at these locations:

Greensboro Locations:

  • Guilford County Division of Public Health Pharmacy

1100 East Wendover Ave

  • Triad Adult & Pediatric Medicine

1002 S. Eugene St

High Point Locations:

  • Guilford County Division of Public Health Pharmacy

501 East Green Drive

  • Kaitlyn’s House

410 Gatewood Ave

  • Triad Adult & Pediatric Medicine

606 N. Elm