Kicking addiction where it hurts

Published 4:41 pm Thursday, September 21, 2017

The opioid addiction epidemic is all too familiar in eastern North Carolina — not to mention across the United States.

Opioids are typically pain medications, and they vary from oxycodone or hydrocodone, up the scale to full-blown heroin. Some addicts are relatively lucky; with ample support and encouragement, they are able to kick the habit before it turns fatal. However, there are many more who are not so lucky, and opioid addiction claims their life.

That’s why groups in Hyde County have pledged to kick the epidemic where it hurts. Between March and December 2016, there were 27 opioid overdose victims brought in to the emergency room from Hyde County. For context, that number could be divided into an average of three overdoses a month, and in such a rural, low-population county, it signals the reality of an epidemic.

Beaufort County is no stranger to this epidemic, either. Opioid-related incidents, including overdoses and fatalities, have grown exponentially in the last few years, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office.

Starting this week, Hyde County Board of Commissioners, Department of Social Services, Cooperative Extension, health department, county manager’s office and sheriff’s office have all created a taskforce to educate the public about opioids. This taskforce plans to host community forums for the next month in all areas of Hyde County, from Fairfield to Ocracoke.

What’s special about this taskforce is the community nature of it. Partners from various spectrums and locations have joined to help — fighting the epidemic in a multi-pronged approach. If there’s one thing that can unite a population, it’s the prospect of danger and the potential for death hitting right at home.

Beaufort County is certainly working hard to combat opioid addiction, too, as part of the statewide call to action from the N.C. Association of County Commissioners. These partners in Hyde County, however, should be recognized for their role in fighting this epidemic in their own way. They’ve had enough and are now enlisting the help of the public to do its part.

Such a multi-pronged, community-based plan should be duplicated in as many counties as possible. It just might save lives.