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Pitt commissioners tackling opioids at community meeting

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County Manager Scott Elliott on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. (Aileen Devlin/The Daily Reflector)

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Pitt County Board of Commissioners is joining the discussion on opioid addiction.

A conference on substance abuse is being held Tuesday at the Pitt County Agricultural Center, 403 Government Circle. The event begins with a light dinner at 5:30 p.m. and the program will start at 8 p.m.

The event is part of the County Leadership Forum on Opioid Abuse, an action of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. The goal is to gather local elected leaders to discuss the opioid epidemic and collectively focus of prevention, education and treatment.

The Pitt County Coalition on Substance Abuse is organizing the program in partnership with Vidant Health, Trillium Resources, Pitt County Public Health and the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office.

“All 100 counties were asked to look at holding a forum to focus on the topic of opioids,” said Pitt County Manager Scott Elliott. “We tailored it to how we think it will work best in Pitt County. Since so many entities have already focused on this issue it didn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel but to partner with entities that already had that focus.”

Beyond the presentations and discussions among elected leaders and representatives from the medical, law enforcement and mental health fields, Elliott said Tuesday’s event will have resources to help individuals and families struggling with opioids. It’s his hope that individuals struggling with addiction or individuals who have family members and friends struggling with addiction join Tuesday’s meeting.

“We are going to have tables set up where they can go up to these entities and people will put them in contact with services that can assist people with opioid problems,” Elliott said.

Whether it is social services having to find find homes for children whose parents are addicted, detainees undergoing treatment for withdrawal symptoms or law enforcement investigating crimes committed by addicts, nearly every area of local government is affected by the opioid crisis, Elliott said.

According to data collected by the association from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services the number of opioid prescriptions per person in Pitt County was .517 in 2010, it increased to 1.84 in 2015.

The same data showed Pitt County has 10 prescription opioid poisoning deaths in 2010. The numbers dropped to three deaths in 2011 but reached a high of 20 deaths in 2014. It dropped to 12 deaths in 2015, the last year data was available.

Montgomery said audience members will be asked to participate in a discussion about gaps in the delivery of services to individuals and families struggling with opioid addiction. Community feedback also will be sought on what individuals think about what is happening in the areas of substance misuse and recovery.

After the meeting the Coalition of Substance Abuse will examine the survey and community feedback and develop a plan to address service gaps in the community, Montgomery said.

“We are going to create a next step by listening to the community. The forum is not the end all,” she said. “The next step is to analyze the survey, look at the community feedback and talk about what else is needed to fight the opioid crisis. It’s not stopping at 8 o’clock. It’s going to be going on for months afterwards.”

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570. Follow her on Twitter @GingerLGDR.

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