Opioid-related overdose deaths in North Carolina have doubled in the past ten years alone. The North Carolina Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services created More Powerful NC to raise awareness of the scope and danger of the opioid crisis. It is a campaign that outlines steps for the safe storage, use, and disposal of pain medications, as well as resources for finding treatment and recovery support. Learn more about the opioid overdose crisis in North Carolina, get connected to resources, and get involved here.
The IPRC’s graduate students have been active members of the Attorney General’s Collegiate Council on Opioid Misuse which is comprised of undergraduate and graduate students from colleges and universities across North Carolina. Using input from key stakeholders and subject matter experts, council members developed a toolkit of resources and strategies for students to use to address opioid misuse on their campuses, as well as in communities across North Carolina. Council members conducted outreach activities to campuses across NC, including discussion panels about the NC Good Samaritan Law. The purpose of these panels was to bring together experts from diverse disciplines to engage in discussions with students regarding substance misuse broadly and opioid misuse more specifically. Discussions focused on the use of combined prevention, treatment, and enforcement strategies to address substance misuse.
The IPRC has been on the front lines of early efforts to set a research agenda in North Carolina to respond to the nation’s opioid crisis. In 2016, the IPRC and key partners convened about 70-80 researchers and practitioners from the Triangle area including UNC, Duke, RTI, NC DPH, and other stakeholders with expertise in opioid overdose prevention, pain management, addiction treatment, pharmacology, pharmacy science, pharmacoepidemiology, human psychology, and injury epidemiology. Participants shared perspectives, ideas, and information on potential data resources and developed cross-disciplinary and innovative research ideas that continue to be in line with current funding priorities.
Building on the work done in 2016 to explore research ideas, in May 2017, the IPRC joined key partners to convene approximately 100 researchers and practitioners from across UNC and the Research Triangle (UNC, Duke, RTI, NC DPH and others) to further examine strategies for addressing the opioid crisis in North Carolina. Attendees from this event were divided into two tracks: In track #1, investigators worked in interdisciplinary teams to outline proposal ideas in key areas: the importance of data, community-driven approaches to the problem, pre-clinical and clinical research, and the connection of HIV and the crisis. In track #2, participants learned about key issues related to the opioid crisis: ongoing efforts in North Carolina for prevention, advocacy, and treatment, transitions from opioid addiction to other health problems, and the biological, clinical, etiological, social, and policy-related aspects of the problem. Keynote speakers: Dr. Wilson Compton (NIH) and Dr. Tamara Haegerich (CDC).