First responders, treatment centers talk needs in fighting opioid crisis

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- After President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, Guilford County agencies are hoping the attention will translate into more funding for what they do to tackle the crisis every day.

"The reality is that funding needs to continue," said Guilford County Emergency Services Director Jim Albright, talking about the naloxone local EMS use every day. "The trajectory we're currently on, we're likely to see 1,000 overdoses this year and probably 100 deaths."

It's a staggering and sad statistic, that keeps growing. So far, more than 70 people have died in Guilford County because of an overdose.

"One of the things we can do is harm reduction," Albright said. "One of those is education to folks that are in use. I think the other thing that's incredibly important is the life saving drug naloxone."

And NARCAN's importance grows every year. In 2015, EMS reversed 261 overdoses with NARCAN. Last year that jumped to 396, and this year we've seen 572 reversals already, an increase of almost 50 percent.

"We have a constant waiting list here, of sometimes double digits," Caring Services Inc.'s Chase Holleman said.

Holleman runs the naloxone program at the treatment center in High Point. He says their biggest issue is capacity.

"People, when they need help, they need it then," Holleman said. "Same day treatment really isn't an option for anyone anywhere."

Housing is one of the many programs they provide, but they see little funding to help dozens of families in the area.

"It's so stigmatized and there's nothing really known about it, so families are just completely distraught," he said. "They have no idea what to do."

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