On Overdose Awareness Day, High Point police look back at worst overdose month in city history

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Ralph Rodland hasn’t had a drop of alcohol or used drugs in more than six years.

“I came into treatment on the back of a failed suicide attempt,” Rodland said. “I had no positive reinforcements or representations of what long-term recovery looked like.”

The long-term recovering addict now serves as executive director of Caring Services Inc. in High Point.

“We're absolutely seeing an increase in people seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders, especially with the opiate use disorders,” he said.

Just down the road, High Point police also have their hands full with people addicted to opiates.

“In 2016 we've really seen a skyrocket,” said Police Chief Ken Shultz.

The chief says the department has seen over 130 overdoses this year, more than 38 happening in August, which breaks a city record.

“It doesn't necessarily mean that they're not breathing and they're dead, but they're suffering from the effects of heroin,” Shultz said.

But the chief says they haven’t seen as many deaths -- so far six people have died from overdose in High Point this year. He says a big part of that is the availability of Narcan, an overdose reversal drug. They have it supplied in 150 units, but have only used it eight times this year.

“If we're actually saving somebody, I don't think you can put a price tag on it,” Shultz said.

Something new the department is doing, it will send out information of people who overdose to local agencies, including Caring Services Inc., who will reach out to those addicts with treatment options.

“Other people in recovery can be some of your greatest assets in your recovery program,” Rodland said.

Another contributor to high amounts of overdoses is heroin being laced with other more potent substances, according to the chief.

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