Naloxone shortage impacts community; ‘a lot of different battles’ fought as overdoses, overdose deaths increase in the Triad

Piedmont Triad News

GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – During the pandemic drug overdoses have continued to rise in the Triad. 

According to Greensboro Police crime statistics, overdoses are up 39% compared to the same time in 2020 and overdose deaths are up 21%. This year alone, there have been 643 overdoses and 99 people have died from an overdose in Greensboro. 

“We’re seeing a huge increase in overdoses,” said Tyler Yates, with Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem or GCSTOP. “We’re fighting the pandemic, we’re fighting stigma, we’re fighting shame, we’re fighting criminalization, there’s a lot of different battles that we are fighting.” 

Yates said saving lives starts with Naloxone, a drug that reverses an overdose and brings people back from the grips of death. 

GCSTOP gives away Naloxone kits to drug users. It includes two vials of the life-saving drug. 

Last year the program gave away more than 5,000 kits. Yates said at least 1,300 overdoses were reversed last year with help from the kits.  

“Those are 1,300 lives that were saved just in Guilford County and if it wasn’t for Naloxone those people’s families and friends would be mourning,” Yates said. 

First responders and people in the community carry the medicine in case it’s needed, but like with other items we’ve seen during the pandemic the life-saving drug is now in short supply. 

“This decrease in the amount of Naloxone in the community is very dangerous,” he said. “We have a poisoned drug supply that is very dangerous and until we increase access to treatment people are going to continue to die, unfortunately.” 

A production issue stopped Pfizer from making the drug in April. It’s not expected to get back to uninterrupted levels until February 2022.

“Naloxone access and making sure that there is a supply of Naloxone is going to be responsible for whether people live or die,” Yates said. 

GCSTOP received a shipment of Naloxone for 1,500 hundred kits from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday. 

If a person overdoses the GCSTOP Rapid Response Team reaches out to give them the lifesaving drug kit and an opportunity for treatment.

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