Taking babies from mommies – Opioids’ impact on families

The opioid epidemic in Wilmington destroys the lives of users and drives violent crime across town. But the youngest victims are the children caught in between parents struggling with opioids and the social service struggling to protect them. County officials are underfunded and backlogged, but a bigger – and more surprising – culprit is the recent proliferation of private treatment centers.

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Author’s note: This series has explored questions about the opioid epidemic in Wilmington. It has focused on the basics: what are opioids, who are the people using them? Some questions remain: what is at the root of epidemic? Why is this epidemic hitting our area so hard – harder than nearly anywhere else in the nation? […]

Opioids: ‘Addressing demand is the only way to stop this’

"One of the most important things I’d like people to know is that treatment works. It might take one or two times, but it works. It might be the only thing that really does.” - North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein

A serious accident at Independence Boulevard and Oleader Drive  sent five people to the hospital this morning, including two children. Police are still on the scene.

Author’s note: This series has explored questions about the opioid epidemic in Wilmington. It has focused on the basics: what are opioids, who are the people using them? Some questions remain: what is at the root of epidemic? Why is this epidemic hitting our area so hard – harder than nearly anywhere else in the nation? […]

‘This numbs pain’ – The connection between mental health and opioids

"The desire to push things away, to not deal with it, to forget is powerful. Sadly, opioids are probably the best thing for forgetting.”

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Author’s note: Anecdotes and statistics agree, Wilmington is suffering an epidemic of opioid drug use. What remains unclear –– and what this series hopes to clarify –– are fundamental questions about the epidemic. The epidemic does not have one single narrative but, instead, intertwining threads. Street heroin has a different, but related, story to prescription drugs. Likewise, […]

‘Wilmington is a heroin town’ – the rise and return of heroin in the opioid crisis

"[T]he real story is that a lot of good doctors who were simply ignorant about addiction started cutting back. And a lot of people who were already hooked suddenly were left in the lurch.”

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Author’s note: Anecdotes and statistics agree, Wilmington is suffering an epidemic of opioid drug use. What remains unclear –– and what this series hopes to clarify –– are fundamental questions about the epidemic. The epidemic does not have one single narrative but, instead, intertwining threads. Street heroin has a different, but related, story to prescription drugs. Likewise, […]

Four more arrested in Brunswick County drug sweeps

BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Four more offenders have joined the dozens arrested last weekend by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit after multiple investigations into illegal drug activity throughout the county. Last week, the Sheriff John Ingram’s Office credited community complaints and tips for triggering various investigations across Brunswick that lead arrests Sunday and […]

Opioids, ‘one of the most frightening issues of our time’

“It’s one of the most frightening issues of our time. It’s also one of the most important." --- Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo

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Author’s note: Anecdotes and statistics agree, Wilmington is suffering an epidemic of opioid drug use. What remains unclear –– and what this series hopes to clarify –– are fundamental questions about the epidemic. The epidemic does not have one single narrative but, instead,  intertwining threads. Street heroin has a different, but related, story to prescription drugs. […]

Wilmington man sentenced more than 4 years for possession of materials to make meth

Patrick Scott Maples

A Wilmington man has pleaded guilty to meth charges in New Hanover County Superior Court. Patrick Maples, 53, of Wilmington, pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of possession of immediate precursor chemicals involving methamphetamine, according to a news release from District Attorney Ben David. Superior Court Judge W. Douglas Parsons sentenced Maples to 50-78 months […]

Drain cleaner, batteries and ‘Smurfs’: District Attorney Ben David talks about the dangers of meth production

District Attorney Ben David held a press conference Friday to discuss Operation One-Pot to Prison. Photo by Christina Haley.

Drain cleaners, salts, medicine, batteries: Each are common every day household items that are used to “cook” methamphetamine, one of the most destructive illegal drugs to produce. State and local authorities have been working for years to seek out and prosecute meth “cooks” in New Hanover and Pender counties, according to District Attorney Ben David. […]

Former narcotics lieutenant imprisoned for forgery charged with drug trafficking

Joseph LeBlanc, right, made his first appearance in New Hanover County District Court by video. Photo by Christina Haley.

A former narcotics lieutenant with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office–who is currently serving a yearslong prison sentence for stealing evidence and forging court orders to obtain prescriptions–was served with additional felony charges on Thursday in New Hanover County District Court. Joseph Antoine LeBlanc, 43, made his first appearance in district court on charges of […]