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On Opioid Addiction

Tonight I attended an addictions town hall in Asheville. Opioid addiction is a growing and deadly scourge. People are dying every day. Families are being crushed from the weight of it, spiritually and financially. Our prisons are packed with those suffering addictions and mental health illnesses. I was deeply moved by the speakers, the questions asked, and the current state of people who are struggling . . . in forward looking Buncombe County.


My first suggestion is the area of health. We should support needle exchange programs. Arrange for the medical care of addicts. And follow the suggestion of one of the audience who said that having clinics for the administration of opioids would save lives. The training of law enforcement and emergency services to administer Narcan in cases of overdose is critical to save lives.

My second suggestion is to build non-criminal alternatives to incarceration for those who are living in the grip of this horrific disease. Addicted people with felony records have a bleak picture for recovery.

My third suggestion is to get more counselors into our schools who can help those children with high ACES scores. (Adverse Childhood Experiences Score - divorce, addiction in the home, parents who are incarcerated, witness spousal abuse.) We know that the higher the score the more likely the child will grow to be addicted to legal or illegal opioids. Dealing with mental health issues in our schools could short circuit the destructive cycle of addiction in families.
In this short piece, I hope that I have conveyed the complexity of addiction.


My impression is that there is broad bi-partisan support for going after this problem. It is overwhelming in its scope. But now is the time to tackle it . . . to budget for it and to build our capacity for empathy through the use of Town Halls like this evening's. Thank you to the Buncombe County Commission for their willingness to look and not hide their eyes from the truth.

Let's get to work.

Bossert for State Senate
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