North Carolina

Overdoses spike in one North Carolina city, eight dead in a month, police warn

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NIDA's Dr. Wilson Compton, one of the authors of the report about fentanyl-related overdose deaths, explains more about the of the report's findings .

A spike in heroin overdoses over the past 30 days has police in Wilmington, North Carolina warning users about potentially stronger and more lethal drugs on the streets.

“Wilmington Police responded to at least 40 heroin overdoses, 8 of which were fatal, in the last 30 days. We expect there were more unreported incidents,” the department said in the warning posted to Facebook.

Police said the overdose spike puts both regular daily users and recreational users at risk in the North Carolina port city.

“When heroin overdoses are on the rise, it can mean that inexperienced and recreational users are not able to tolerate the strength of the heroin being sold on the streets,” Kenny House with Coastal Horizons Center said in the post.

“The effects can be life threatening, and those effects can also be further intensified to the point of being even more dangerous with other drugs – including alcohol,” he said.

Overdose statistics shared by the Wilmington Police Department show there have been 28 deaths so far this year, with eight of those in the last 30 days. Last year, 52 people died from overdoses in Wilmington and there were 50 deaths in 2017, according to the department.

There have been 162 reported overdoses in the city so far this year, with a quarter of those in the last 30 days, department statistics show.

The city recorded 364 total overdoses last year and 243 in 2017, according to the department.

“While we are committed to arresting those who sell and possess illegal drugs we are also mindful of the need for treatment for addiction. We want to encourage heroin users as well as other substance abusers to seek help,” Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said in the post.

A report released last year found that fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, was responsible for an increasing number of overdose deaths in the state, according to the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

More than a half-million people died from opioids between 2000 and 2015. Today, opioid deaths are considered an epidemic. To understand the struggle of a drug addiction, we take a closer look at what happens to the body.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
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