prescription drugs

What to Know About North Carolina’s Opioid Epidemic

By Joel Hancock

Over the past decade, residents of North Carolina have experienced opioid misuse, addiction, and ultimately double the number of overdoses. Opioids, also known as opiates, include not only illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl, but also prescription pain medication including things like morphine, Vicodin, oxycodone, and Tylenol with codeine. Regardless of the drug’s legal status, all opioids affect the brain and the body the same way and are turning too many lives upside down. 

How Do Opioids Work?

Opioids work by targeting nerve cells in the brain and body and activating their receptors. Opioids can serve to reduce pain, but can also become addictive and lead to accidental overdose and death. As many as one in four patients receiving long-term opioid therapy in a primary care setting is struggling with opioid addiction. People often turn to opioids to deal with various emotional issues. They can provide a feeling of euphoria, which keeps people taking more. 

After using opioids over a long period, people can develop a level of tolerance for them and will, therefore, require a larger quantity of opioids to achieve the same feeling. Additionally, the symptoms of withdrawal can be too much to bear, so people continue taking the drug to avoid them. 

Since people will eventually require more and more drugs to achieve the same effects, they will often turn to illicit street drugs such as heroin, as they are much cheaper than prescription medication, and do not require sign off of a doctor (as they are illegal). 

A Harsh Reality

Sadly, as of 2014, two million Americans either used more opioids than prescribed or were dependent upon them and from 2002 to 2017, the number of opioid overdoses quadrupled. In 2017, 66 percent of overdose deaths occurred with males. Unfortunately, many opioid deaths are now caused by heroin that is laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. Not only is heroin cheaper to produce, but also it is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. 

What Can You Do?

It is important to be aware of the risk factors for prescription opioid abuse and addiction. They include:

  • Taking high dosages 
  • Having a mental illness
  • Having a history of alcohol or other substance abuse
  • Obtaining more than one prescription from more than one provider or pharmacy

Also remember that prescription opioid overdose deaths often result when used in tandem with alcohol and benzodiazepines, so avoiding both while taking prescription opioids is best practice. 

The Attorneys at Hancock Law, PLLC Help Those in NC Who Have Been Charged with a Felony

Opioid addiction can be extremely serious and requires medical help. If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid addiction, there are many resources to which you can turn. You can leverage SAMHSA’s National Helpline (1-800-662-HELP (4357)) or the National Drug Helpline at 1-888-633-3239. Be sure to get the help you need and deserve.

At the Hancock Law Firm, PLLC, we understand the severity of addiction and wish to help our clients get better. That is why if you or a loved one has been charged with a drug crime, we can help. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call Hancock Law Firm, PLLC at 262-221-3047 today!

About the Author
Joel Hancock is a native of Carteret County, NC. He devotes 100% of his practice to defending those accused of traffic infractions, DWI, misdemeanors, and felonies in Carteret County, NC.