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Opioid workshop will equip participants to save lives

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PRINCETON — A free workshop planned next week will educate Johnston County residents on the opioid epidemic and equip them with a lifesaving medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

The Johnston County Opioid Task Force will hold the training session at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 4 at the Princeton Library inside Princeton High School, 101 Dr. Donnie H. Jones Blvd. W.

“The opioid awareness workshop will provide understanding on the effects of opioid misuse, awareness, prevention measures and equip the community with kits to counteract the overdose effect,” said Princeton Police Chief Tyrone Sutton. “This is an informative way to deliver vital information that will spearhead growing knowledge of this epidemic.”

North Carolina lost 1,505 people to opioid-related drug overdoses — a rate of 15.4 deaths per 100,000 residents, according to National Institute on Drug Abuse figures. That’s well above the national average of 13.3 deaths per 100,000.

Opioids are narcotics that produce morphine-like effects. Opiates either contain or are derived from opium and tend to induce sleep and alleviate pain. They include prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.

In the past two years, the North Carolina General Assembly has passed two laws intended to reduce the harm that comes from the use of opiate drugs ranging from prescription pain medications to heroin.

Johnston County saw 23 opiate-related deaths in 2015, according to Gov. Roy Cooper’s press office. The figure has steadily climbed since 2005, when the county charted eight deaths.

“A serious opioid addiction can start from a prescription,” Sutton said. “Misuse and abuse of opioids is a terrible epidemic seen throughout several communities. It has claimed the lives of many victims and affected their families for a lifetime. Education can combat the opioid crisis through the collaboration of health systems, hospitals, medical, dental, pharmacists and other specialized health fields.”

So far, Sutton said, the town of Princeton hasn’t experienced any opiod-related incidents.

The workshop will teach participants how to respond to an overdose and administer the lifesaving overdose reversal agent naloxone. Attendees will receive information on overdose prevention laws in North Carolina, be connected with local resources in Johnston County and receive a free naloxone kit to take home in the event the medication is needed to save a loved one’s life.

The Johnston County Opioid Task Force will hold its next meeting from 3-5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 8 at the Johnston County Health Department, 521 N Brightleaf Blvd, Smithfield. New members are welcome. For more information, call 919-989-5500.