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Statewide Opioid Education Campaign Launched

Alex Olgin

Local and state leaders launched a new campaign to teach the public about the dangers of opioid use and how and where to get help. The More Powerful North Carolina campaign will launch television, radio and digital ads and a website that aggregates resources for those addicted and those living with friends and family who are suffering. 

Opioid-related deaths have continued to increase year over year and now more people die from overdoses than car crashes. Bryan Licsko is now more than two and a half years sober. He found himself addicted to opioids after a car accident. He said he ended up finding treatment at Atrium Health, but it wasn’t easy.

“It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to do to find out where I needed to go and what I needed to do to get the help," he said. "Which is why campaigns like this are amazing. Because it’s really putting it out there for people. It’s really simplifying the process.”

The website has information about treatment programs, insurance coverage and how to choose which one is best for each patient. Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services used this announcement to advocate for Medicaid expansion. She said it would make treatment more affordable for the 120,000 people she estimates need it. 

Credit Alex Olgin / WFAE News
During the announcement, the sidewalk on Trade and Tryon in Uptown was lined with pictures of opioid pills.

"Expanding Medicaid is the single biggest lever we could pull that we are not right now," Cohen said. "To get more folks into that treatment." 

Democratic lawmakers have introduced bills to expand Medicaid and Republican lawmakers had planned to introduce a proposal to address the coverage gap this week. But the press event where it was scheduled to be unveiled was abruptly canceled.