GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Community leaders in both Guilford and Forsyth Counties are putting their heads together to figure out what works and what doesn't when it comes to the opioid epidemic affecting our state.
Attorney General Josh Stein stopped in Wednesday Greensboro to lead the discussion with Mayor Nancy Vaughan.
"We need prevention to reduce the number of people who become addicted," AG Stein says. "We need treatment to help those who are currently addicted and we need to enforce the law aggressively against the traffickers who are profiting off of people's misery and death."
AG Stein is going to communities across the state to hear problems and solutions across the board.
He says a big win for prevention is the STOP Act lawmakers passed this week. It aims to limit the number of pills a doctor can prescribe at an initial visit. Lawmakers are hoping this will reduce the chance of someone getting hooked.
"The longer the prescription, the more likely there are extra pills in the medicine cabinet where it can become a magnet for addicts," Stein explains.
But addiction is a multi-faceted problem. Law enforcement, healthcare workers, first responders, parents, former addicts and other community leaders were all at the meeting in Greensboro with Mayor Vaughan and AG Stein and they touched on a variety of challenges in fighting this crisis.
For example, if an EMS worker administers NARCAN to save someone from overdosing, there's really no follow-up to make sure that person gets treatment. In brainstorming, leaders say they would like to see a program that requires follow-up and also requires people to seek treatment.
There are also issues in the jails. Officers say it's a challenge to get inmates to use AA and NA services available to them and also to ensure people stay clean once they're released. That's where more of this follow-up program would come into play to try and ensure people get the help they need.
One mom spoke out about education, saying her kids know where to get drugs at schools. Leaders agree there needs to be some sort of education in the school system to teach kids that abusing drugs just because they're from a doctor, doesn't mean they're safe.
There's also the challenges of breaking the stigma surrounding addiction and figuring out how to more seamlessly work together as first responders, healthcare workers and other community groups trying to fight this crisis.
AG Stein and first responders also talked about the crisis impacting Forsyth County Wednesday night while at Green Street United Methodist Church on S. Green St.
Stein plans to take what he learns from all the sessions across the state to come up with a more uniform solution to share with everyone.
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