Opioid addiction

@NCAGO / Twitter

There are more than 2,000 lawsuits by cities and counties against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids. A last-minute settlement this week involving two Ohio counties doesn’t put much of a dent in that number, but four state attorneys general hope a deal they worked out will, for the most part, end the litigation -- while giving communities their due.

Guilford Judge Died From Heroin, Fentanyl Intoxication

Oct 18, 2019
Tom Jarrell
nccourts.org / Twitter

Autopsy results indicate that a prominent Guilford County judge died from an opioid overdose.

Tom Jarrell was 56 years old when he was found dead in his home in August.

The State Medical Examiner’s Office has released an autopsy, citing fentanyl and heroin intoxication as the cause of death.

Alex Olgin / WFAE News

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. 

Alex Olgin / WFAE

When a patient is brought into the emergency room for a drug overdose, there will now be someone at a few hospitals to help. Called a “peer support specialist,” this person isn’t a doctor or a nurse, but has personally dealt with addiction, mental illness or both.

JOSH STEIN

North Carolina is among six states filing lawsuits today against drug manufacturer Purdue Pharma, accusing the company of using deceptive marketing that helped fuel the opioid crisis.

In a refrigerator in the coroner's office in Marion County, Ind., rows of vials await testing. They contain blood, urine and vitreous, the fluid collected from inside a human eye.

In overdose cases, the fluids may contain clues for investigators.

"We send that off to a toxicology lab to be tested for what we call drugs of abuse," said Alfie Ballew, deputy coroner. The results often include drugs such as cocaine, heroin, fentanyl or prescription pharmaceuticals.

Flickr/ US Department of Agriculture

Mecklenburg County health officials say more than 525 people came to emergency rooms with opioid overdoses in the county last year.  That’s about a 45 percent increase from the previous year.  Across North Carolina in 2017, emergency rooms reported a nearly 40 percent increase in visits for opioid overdoses.  Mecklenburg County government and partner agencies will host a summit Thursday to address the growing opioid crisis. 

Alex Olgin / WFAE

It’s not just rehab facilities that are treating opioid addicts. These days family practitioners are taking on more of the responsibility. To do this they need federal approval to prescribe the necessary medications. The number of doctors getting approved to do this treatment is growing, but patients are still being turned away.