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Guilford County’s solution to the opioid problem could save lives

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- If there was a 20 percent drop in opioid deaths in Guilford County last year, 16 people would still be alive today. The epidemic that's gripping the country is something every county, state and city is trying to solve, but Guilford County is excited about a new formula they think will work.

GC STOP stands for Guilford County's Solution To the Opioid Problem. All the agencies that deal with the opioid crisis, between law enforcement, EMS, medical professionals and psychologists teaming up with UNCG to guide addicts using a unified treatment plan.

"Now drug overdose is the number one cause of accidental deaths," state Sen. Trudy Wade said. "It's more than car crashes."

Wade helped secure $250,000 of state funding to get the program started.

"If we get it working here, it can be a model for other areas in the state," Wade said.

From law enforcement to the medical community, this is a community solution to get addicts the attention they need.

"It will be facilitated navigation, so literally someone that can do warm hand-offs," Director of Guilford County Emergency Services Jim Albright said. "When they're ready to seek recovery, we're gonna take them from there."

Last year, Guilford County EMS did more than 700 overdose reversals using Narcan and still saw 80 confirmed opioid related deaths.

"This overdose rescue kit will eventually go to someone, and save them, or their family member, or their friend's life," said overdose survivor Chase Holleman, holding a kit of Narcan in the air. "I know this medication works because it saved my life."

Advocates like Holleman say identifying overdose survivors like himself and engaging them is a great first step.

"Meet people where they are, offer them education to empower them to make better choices," Holleman said.

GC STOP has set up a non-emergency hotline for anyone who is looking for help navigating the system in Guilford County to help with opioid treatment. You can call (336) 505-8122 if you need help.

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