Amid escalating use and abuse of opioids nationwide, the number of local narcotics-related overdoses has increased rapidly in recent years. The drug naloxone can temporarily suspend those drugs’ effects, and the Asheville metropolitan area leads the state in confirmed cases of opioid overdose reversal, according to the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition.
But that’s largely a function of how naloxone is distributed here rather than a sign that the area has more opioid abusers, notes Tessie Castillo, advocacy and communications coordinator for the Durham-based nonprofit.
Meanwhile, tougher restrictions on prescribing pharmaceuticals have led more and more local addicts to turn to an illegal opioid: heroin. The Asheville Police Department is “seeing a correlation between lower pill seizure rates and higher heroin seizures,” reports Public Information Officer Christina Hallingse. In the last four years, the APD has seen the total number of heroin seizures jump from 0 to 28 per year.
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