Jackson County Commissioners have signed a proclamation designating September as Opioid Awareness Month.

Throughout September, the Jackson County Department of Public Health will promote the CDC’s Rx Awareness Campaign to shed light on opioid misuse in the nation and the local community.

The health department will share a series of articles, videos and resources on the department’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/JacksonCoDPH/, and local news outlets. The opioid epidemic continues to devastate families, with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating misuse and overdoses 

In 2019, nearly five North Carolinians died each day from an unintentional opioid overdose. Data from 2020 shows that Jackson County is in the state’s highest quantile for opioid overdose deaths (19), community naloxone reversals (65), children in foster care due to parental substance use (55), with a high number of opioid overdose emergency department visits (42). In contrast, Jackson County was in the low quantile for patients receiving opioid pills and people served by treatment programs.

The N.C. Division of Health and Human Services Opioid Data Dashboard tracks each county’s strategies based on the state’s Opioid Action Plan. Jackson County is implementing DHHS resources, has permanent medication drop boxes to reduce supply, low/no-cost sterile syringe access through the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition, some naloxone access services and some medication-assisted treatment providers.

Additional beneficial strategies could include community response teams that assist families impacted by substance use, non-medical drivers such as Housing First and Fair Chance Hiring, pre-arrest diversion, and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in jails for justice-involved persons and peer support specialists to support and promote harm reduction, recovery and resilience.

While the statistics and media reporting around substance use can be startling, it is important to know that change can and does occur. It all starts by recognizing that everyone knows and probably loves someone struggling with substance use disorder. Keeping a non-judgemental mindset is encouraged to continue forward towards change 

Throughout September, JCDPH will share resources on overdose prevention, treatment and recovery. For more information or to get involved, contact Health Education Supervisor Janelle Messer, at 587-8238 or janellemesser@jacksonnc.org.