Community the key to solving opioid crisis

Community the key to solving opioid crisis

Photo by Stephen Kindland for the Times-News

By Stephen Kindland, Times-News Correspondent

Nationally recognized addiction recovery activist Ryan Hampton told about 300 people gathered at Blue Ridge Community College that the nation’s opioid crisis won’t end until comprehensive communitywide efforts are made to address the problem.

Judy Long, executive director of The Free Clinics – which treats low-income patients in its building on Case Street off Upward Road – has 220 volunteers who deliver more than 20 health-related programs through a network of 180 health and community partners, including three hospitals.

“We’ve done a tremendous amount of work as a community to stem the flow of inappropriate prescriptions, and to reduce the impact of the pill form of opioids on our streets,” Long said. “What we’re finding now in the aftermath of that is the extensive presence of fentanyl (a narcotic similar to heroin) in our communities. People who think they’re taking one drug are actually taking fentanyl because it’s mixed in.

“But there’s a lot more awareness of the opioid epidemic and what we need to do as a community, what physicians need to do, what pharmacists need to do, and what lay people need to do,” she added.



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