What kind of addiction issues is North Carolina dealing with, and how are they addressing it? Here is a roundup of some of the latest addiction news making headlines around the state.
Opioid Overdoses Declining in North Carolina
For the first time in 5 years, North Carolina is seeing fewer unintentional deaths from opioid overdose. According to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, the rate declined by 5 percent in 2018, after increasing 34 percent in 2017. There has also been a decline in opioid prescriptions in North Carolina from 2017 to 2019.
Some of the reasons credited for the decline include programs and laws issued under the state’s 2017 Opioid Action Plan. In July 2019, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law the Opioid Epidemic Response Act, which decriminalized the possession of controlled substance testing strips. The health department also partnered with the North Carolina Attorney General’s office to conduct a public awareness campaign, and launched a pilot program to help treat addiction in people recently released from prison.
State Bill Would Remove Parental Rights Faster for Drug Abuse
The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a bill that would shorten the amount of time before a child of parents using illegal substances is eligible for adoption. Under a provision of House Bill 918, the process of “termination of parental rights” could be shortened to nine months.
Under the proposed bill, a judge would have to deem the mother “unable to discharge parental responsibilities due to a history of chronic drug abuse.” To remove the child from parental custody, the bill would also require that a “licensed health care provider with substance abuse disorders experience” assess the situation and determine that the mother would keep using drugs “for a prolonged or indeterminate period.”
North Carolina currently has about 11,000 children in the state’s child welfare system, a number that has risen with increased substance misuse. Of significant concern is scientific evidence that bonding with parental figures in early childhood is vital for a child’s neurological development. The trauma of having parents with substance abuse and living within the welfare system, can create many psychological and physical challenges for children.
North Carolina Will File Suits Against Eight E-Cigarette Companies
North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein announced in August that his office plans to file lawsuits against eight companies that sell vaping products. The Attorney General’s office has accused these companies of marketing and selling products to children, which is prohibited under state law, since most of these products still contain nicotine.
The office has already filed a similar lawsuit against the e-cigarette company Juul. E-cigarette supporters say that their products help reduce traditional cigarette smoking. Critics point out that vaping products, especially those that offer flavors like cotton candy or bubble gum, may appeal to children who never tried smoking before.
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