CAROLINA BEACH — The rise of opiate abuse and related deaths in the Cape Fear region has prompted action from local leaders and public safety officials. Police Chief of Carolina Beach Chris Spivey offered town leaders an update on opiates in the town.
In May, town leaders held a workshop to discuss opiates and start the conversation on how to move forward with finding a solution, Spivey said.
“Council tasked us with was to look for some options and creative ideas for things we can do here on Pleasure Island to assist with the problem,” Spivey said.
In just a little over three months since the initial workshop, Spivey said the Carolina Beach Police Department has not preformed any Narcan overdose reversals.
“I am not going to say that they haven’t been occurring, because the community or a family member certainly has the ability to do a reversal or revival. A lot of times depending on where we’re located or when the call comes out, it’s usually the Fire Department who is on scene first. Prior to that we had done a dozen or more, I would say that is good, but it doesn’t necessary tell the whole truth,” Spivey said.
Spivey also said the Fire Department has not had to perform any, but EMS had performed about 12 in the last 3 months.
“The New York Times reports that almost 65,000 fatalities occurred in 2016 from overdoses nationwide. To put that into a little bit of perspective the US national archive records indicate that 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War Conflict,” Spivey said.
The Carolina Beach Police Department has taken several approaches to addressing the issue, from working with addicts and users, to making arrests for distribution.
“We have been identifying the low-level users, the addicts that are seeking help and looking for diversion … We have made several arrests for possession with intent to sell and deliver, we still have ongoing investigations with both local, state and federal agencies for other cases,” Spivey said.
Spivey said there is a syringe exchange operating on Pleasure Island, and the Police Department has received a significant decrease in the reports and collect of used syringes. From about June 2016 until June 2017, there was a 95 percent exchange rate from clean needles that were distributed were returned, he said.
Carolina Beach will also be hosting a medication drop off in October, part of a biannual partnership with state and local organizations.
“It is one of the most proactive ways we can get unwanted, unused and expired medications out of medicine cabinets and in a safe disposal site,” Spivey said.
Mayor Dan Wilcox said he recently had a meeting with Congressman David Rouzer where over 50 percent of the meeting was spent discussing the opiate crisis. Rouzer, Wilcox noted, said he would do what he could to help make funds available to help offset the costs.
Michael Praats can be contacted at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org