Over 1,600 North Carolinians died of an opioid overdose in 2017, which is part of a 12 percent increase in reported overdose deaths in North Carolina, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
Most of the deaths occurred in central and southeastern North Carolina, with Wake County having among the highest.
Adam Zolotor, president of the North Carolina Institute of Medicine, said wide-scale opioid addiction usually afffects disadvantaged communities.
“I think that root causes are things that are really, really hard to solve from a public policy perspective, but I think we see time and time again in communities with high unemployment, high community violence, high community trauma, despair — those are the kinds of communities that are affected by high rates of addiction," Zolotor said.
The state government released a multi-faceted Opioid Action Plan over the summer to respond to the epidemic. The plan focuses on educating the public, working with health care providers to more closely scrutinize opioid prescriptions, creating anti-trafficking groups within law enforcement and helping those struggling with addiction find and pay for treatment.