North Carolina Addiction Treatment
The nationwide heroin epidemic is growing into a serious issue in North Carolina. Between 2010 and 2014, heroin-related deaths across the state skyrocketed 584 percent. Many people become addicted to heroin after being prescribed or abusing prescription opioids. Addicted people who can’t get prescription painkillers sometimes turn to heroin as a cheaper and more accessible alternative.
In 2012, North Carolina experienced a slight dip in addiction treatment admittances; however, drug abuse has climbed 170 percent over the past five years.
The largest number of North Carolina treatment admissions come from:
- Alcohol – 35.2%
- Marijuana/Hashish – 25.8%
- Other opiates and synthetics – 14.5%
- Cocaine/Crack – 13.1%
- Heroin – 4.5%
Roughly eight percent of those admitted to drug rehab in North Carolina started using illicit drugs by age 11 and under – much earlier than the average starting age for most other areas. In the wake of frightening drug use reports among adolescents, North Carolina law enforcement agencies have increased their presence in schools to raise awareness and stop the cycle of drug abuse.
North Carolina is made up of many rural areas that are most vulnerable to drug trafficking, especially in the western parts of the state. Its vast terrain provides makes it easy to conceal drug-related criminal activities. For example, methamphetamine production labs have been historically well-known in the state’s mountainous regions. However, following several law enforcement initiatives, the number of meth lab seizure incidents increased 32 percent from 2007 to 2009.
Drugs including heroin, cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine are commonly transported by highway, air transit or waterway. Here’s a breakdown of how drugs are imported and exported through North Carolina’s regions:
- Highway: Interstate 95, which reaches from Miami to northern Maine, is one of the most heavily used highways for drug trafficking. Passing through areas of North Carolina like Fayetteville, vehicles carrying drugs along the interstate are typically destined for New York or Florida.
- Air transit: With hundreds of international flights coming in and out of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, drugs are often carried in passengers’ luggage, shoes or clothing.
- Waterway: Through the 1990s, North Carolina’s two deep water ports experienced an influx of commercial vessels carrying drugs from the Middle East and Europe. After a crackdown by law enforcement officials, the number of drug seizures at the port has dramatically decreased.
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Laws Of North Carolina Drug Use
North Carolina has strict legal consequences for drug possession, manufacturing and distribution. While an intent to distribute comes with a tougher sentence than personal possession, all drug-related cases face serious punishment.
Drug penalties are categorized by schedules. Each schedule is broken down by type of drug, risk of dependency and any accepted medical uses for the substance.
|Schedule||Drugs Included||First Offense||Second Offense|
|Schedule I||Heroin, ecstasy, GHB, methaqualone, peyote, opiates||Class 1 felony, 4-5 months jail||Varies by amount of drug and previous offenses|
|Schedule II||Cocaine, Raw Opium, Codeine, Hydrocodone, Morphine,
Methadone, Methamphetamine, Ritalin (and others)
|Class 1 misdemeanor, 45 days in jail||Class 1 felony, 4-5 months in jail|
|Schedule III||Ketamine, Anabolic Steroids, Some Barbiturates (and others)||Class 1 misdemeanor, 45 days in jail||Class 1 felony, 4-5 months in jail|
|Schedule IV||Valium, Xanax, Rohypnol, Darvon, Clonazepam, Barbital (and others)||Class 1 misdemeanor, 45 days in jail||Class 1 felony, 4-5 months in jail|
|Schedule V||Over-the-counter cough medicines with codeine (and others)||Class 2 misdemeanor, 30 days in jail||Class 1 misdemeanor, 45 days in jail|
Marijuana Laws In North Carolina
Medical and recreational marijuana is illegal in the state of North Carolina. Sentences are less severe for those who have not faced a previous drug-related charge. First-time offenders may be placed on probation rather than serving time in jail. After successfully completing a drug education program as part of probation, the charges will be dismissed. However, for those with previous controlled substance convictions, a class 1 misdemeanor will be punished as a class I felon.
|Marijuana Amount||Criminal Charge||Potential Sentence|
|0.5 ounces or less||Class 3 misdemeanor||$200 maximum fine|
|0.5 to 1.5 ounces||Class 1 misdemeanor||1 to 45 days in jail, plus a $1,000 maximum fine|
|1.5 ounces to 10 lbs. or less||Class 1 felony||3 to 8 months in jail, plus possible fine|
Addiction Treatment Laws In North Carolina
North Carolina’s harm reduction laws help to reduce the negative impact associated with drug use. Harm reduction programs are intended to improve the quality of life for communities that are most susceptible to addiction and drug-related crimes.
For instance, North Carolina’s 911 Good Samaritan law provides individuals with immunity from civil liability when they call for emergency aid after someone has overdosed. The law was designed to remove the fear many people experience when calling 911 for drug or alcohol-related emergencies. Those who call for help won’t be prosecuted for small amounts of drugs or underage drinking.
An estimated 88 percent of people say the 911 Good Samaritan law makes them feel more at ease calling 911 in the event of an overdose.
As of August 2015, changes to the Good Samaritan law were enacted, allowing pharmacists to dispense naloxone under a standing order. With this change, people are now able to access, carry and administer naloxone – a medication used to counter the harmful effects of an opioid overdose. Between 2013 and early 2016, the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) has distributed more than 21,000 overdose rescue kits that contain naloxone, resulting in more than 2,000 overdose rescues.
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Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) allow states to monitor the number of controlled prescription drugs that are dispensed to patients. In North Carolina, the program is known as the Controlled Substances Reporting System (CSRS) and became operational in 2007.
The North Carolina CSRS works to:
- Identify and prevent diversion of prescribed controlled substances.
- Reduce misuse and abuse of controlled substances.
- Help physicians identify an addiction and refer patients to get treatment.
- Keeps community members informed about drug abuse and prevention.
- Reduce the number of fraudulent insurance claims.
- Provide patients with better overall care.
North Carolina Syringe Exchange Program (SEP)
The North Carolina Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) collects used syringes from residents and exchanges them for sterile syringes. Oftentimes, a syringe used by multiple individuals can become contaminated with a disease such as HIV or hepatitis C. Providing communities with sterile syringes helps reduce the number of infections traveling from person to person.
More than 90 percent of syringes distributed by Syringe Exchange Programs are returned.
SEPs play a vital role in helping to reduce the number of drug users. They usually offer recovery services including housing programs, career services and addiction treatment facilities to those in need. Currently, the 20 states with SEPs in place have seen a significant drop in drug-related criminal activities and drug abuse.
Drug Treatment Courts
In 1996, North Carolina introduced five drug treatment courts. That number has grown to 45 drug treatment courts including programs for adults, juveniles and families.
Drug treatment court in North Carolina lasts for approximately 52 weeks and entails a broad range of recovery services including:
- Primary Care: 12 weeks of intensive outpatient treatment.
- Continuing Care: 8 – 40 weeks of care depending on an individual’s recovery progress.
- Recovery Support Programs: Active participation in a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or others.
- Educational/Vocational Programs: Provides support for individuals looking for employment, as well as participating in educational programs.
Treatment Centers in North Carolina
With increasing concerns over the amount of drug use in its state, North Carolina has created different addiction treatment solutions for its residents. Many treatment centers accept Medicaid as well as private health insurance. For individuals without insurance, local organizations may step in and help with funding or provide financial assistance resources.
Throughout the state, treatment facilities may offer:
- Long-term addiction treatment.
- Short-term/90-day drug and alcohol treatment.
- Specialized inpatient rehab programs.
- Psychotherapy/Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
- Medication-assisted therapy.
While researching rehab facilities, it’s important to look over all your options, including those that are out of state.
You may find that you wan to go to a facility that is not in your home state. Sometimes an out-of-state treatment center can provide you with a different perspective than those closer to home. For example, going out of state will distance you from negative influences, as well as give you the chance to focus solely on your recovery. This may make all the difference in your long-term sobriety.
Help is available. Contact a treatment provider today.