Overdose Prevention and Response
Drug and alcohol overdose deaths are the number one cause of unintentional death in North Carolina according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). The rise reflects the growing problem across the nation and as of 2018, overdose deaths are the leading cause of preventable injury death in the United States. Mirroring national trends, the number of overdose deaths in our county have tripled in the past ten years alone and the problem only continues to grow and devastate lives.
While drug overdose and addiction is preventable, it continues to be a major public health problem. Addiction is a disease that can happen to anyone. Whether you or someone you know is impacted by addiction, help and hope are closer than you think.
Learn the signs
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a person is just very high, or experiencing an overdose. The following will present some information on how to tell the difference. If you’re having a hard time telling the difference, it is best to treat the situation like an overdose -- it could save someone’s life. Call for emergency medical attention if any of these signs appear:
- Failure to respond when spoken to
- Failure to wake up when prompted
- Slow or no breathing
- Tiny pupils (the center of the eye)
- Fingernails or lips are turning blue or purple
- Body is very limp
- Opioid overdose is life-threatening and requires immediate emergency attention. Call 911 immediately.
- If the person has stopped breathing or if breathing is very weak, begin CPR (best performed by someone trained).
- If Narcan® is available, use it as directed.
Reversing an Overdose with Naloxone
Naloxone (also known as Narcan®) temporarily blocks or reverses the effects of opioids. In most cases the effect is immediate (within 30-40 seconds), blocking the effects of the overdose and allowing the person to breathe again. This gives time to seek emergency medical assistance.Naloxone has no potential for abuse. Naloxone may be injected in the muscle, vein or under the skin, or sprayed into the nose. Its use is supported by many organizations, including the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the World Health Organization.
Don’t flush unused or expired medications and don’t throw them in the trash. Safely dispose of them at one of Onslow County’s 7 medication disposal drop boxes at no charge.
*Med-Drop boxes do not accept needles/sharps
- Jacksonville Department of Public Safety
- 200 Marine Blvd., Jacksonville
- Hours: 7am- 12am (midnight)
- Onslow County Sheriff Department
- 717 Court Street, Jacksonville
- Hours: 24/7
- 359 Western Blvd., Jacksonville
- Hours: 7am- 12am *accepts liquids
- Camp Lejeune, Provost Marshal Office (PMO)
- Bldg B3 Post Lane, Camp Lejeune
- Hours: 24/7
- Swansboro Police Department
- 609 W. Corbett Ave., Swansboro
- Hours: 24/7
- Richlands Town Hall
- 302 S. Wilmington St., Richlands
- Hours: 8am- 5pm/ M-F
- Holly Ridge Police Department
- 313 Sound Rd., Holly Ridge
- Hours: 8am- 5pm/ M-F
If you would like Project Med-Drop tags or have questions, please contact Sophia Hayes at Sophia_Hayes@onslowcountync.gov or at (910)-989-3975.
Tips for Disposing of Medication
Removing old medicine from a home is an important part of maintaining a healthy and safe household. It prevents family members from taking outdated medicine, removes the risk of self-prescribing and eliminates the risk of someone abusing or accidentally ingesting the medications, including children.
- Check the dates. Examine everything in your medicine cabinet, including ointments, supplements and vitamins. Discard any item that is beyond the expiration date. Many medications lose their effectiveness after the expiration date. Some may even be toxic.
- For prescriptions, follow the one year cut off rule. Discard any prescription medications that are more than one year old.
- Ditch any items that have changed color, smell or taste. This includes any colors that have faded, because they may have been exposed to too much light.
- Discard unmarked containers. If something is no longer in its original container and cannot be identified, get rid of it. In the future, try to always keep medications in their original containers so that you can easily recognize every medication. This includes ointments, since these can easily be mistaken for creams.
- Dispose of unused or expired medication at a drop-box. Because of the potential harm to the environment, it is not recommended to simply throw out medication or flush them down the toilet. Safely dispose of them at an approved drop-box site listed above.
Safe Medication Storage
About 60,000 young children end up in emergency rooms each year because they got into medicines while an adult wasn’t looking. These emergency visits can be prevented by always putting every medicine up and away and out of children’s reach and sight every time you use it.
Families take medications and vitamins to feel well and to stay well. However, any medication, including those you buy without a prescription, can cause harm if taken in the wrong way or by the wrong person. Practicing safe medication storage, while at home and when on-the-go, can help keep children safe.
Put medicines up and away and out of children’s reach and sight.
- Children are curious and put all sorts of things in their mouths. Even if you turn your back for less than a minute, they can quickly get into things that could hurt them.
- Pick a storage place in your home that children cannot reach or see. Different families will have different places. Walk around your house and decide on the safest place to keep your medicines and vitamins.
Put medicines away every time.
- This includes medicines and vitamins you use every day. Never leave medicine out on a kitchen counter or at a sick child’s bedside, even if you have to give it again in a few hours
Make sure the safety cap is locked.
- Always relock the cap on a medicine bottle. If the bottle has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click or cannot twist anymore.
- Remember, even though many medicines have safety caps, children may be able to open them. Every medicine must be stored up and away and out of children’s reach and sight.
Teach your children about medicine safety.
- Teach your children what medicine is and why you or a trusted adult must be the one to give it to them.
- Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if they don’t like to take their medicine.
Tell your guests about medicine safety.
- Ask family members, house guests, and other visitors to keep purses, bags, or coats that have medicine in them up and away and out of sight when they are in your home.
Be prepared in case of an emergency.
- Call your poison control center at 800.222.1222 right away if you think your child might have gotten into a medicine or vitamin, even if you are not completely sure.
- Program the Poison Help number into your home and cell phones so you will have it when you need it.
- CDC’s Medication Safety website
- Up and Away Campaign
- The PROTECT Initiative
- Tips For Parents about the safe use of over-the-counter medication
- Medication Safety, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
NC 911 Good Samaritan Law
If an individual is aware that the victim and caller are protected from prosecution in the event of an overdose, many deaths from opioid misuse disorder and substance abuse can be prevented. The NC 911 Good Samaritan Law states that individuals who experience a drug overdose or persons who witness an overdose and seek help for the victim can no longer be prosecuted for possession of small amounts of drugs, paraphernalia, or underage drinking. Read more here
Virtual Recovery Resources
The coronavirus pandemic has put severe stress on millions of people in recovery for substance use issues, as well as on friends and family who are trying to stand by them. Connection is considered an antidote to addiction, but the bans on gatherings have abruptly shut down support groups, leaving many people floundering for safety nets.
In response, many organizations are quickly making virtual meetings and counseling available on numerous platforms. Apps help people track their habits, meditate and find a community of peers. Here are some options, almost all of which are free.
Support for Patients, Family & Friends
- Managing Chronic Pain with or in Recovery (SAMHSA)
- Facts and Recommendations for Individuals and Families
- Medication and Drug Overdose (NCDHHS, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch)
- Opioid Overdose Emergency Department Visit Report (NCDETECT) January 2020*
- All Intents Poisoning Deaths by County: N.C. Residents, 2009-2018
- The NC Opioid Data Dashboard displays the metrics tracked in the North Carolina Opioid Action Plan for the state and individual counties.
- Visit the IVPB Poisoning Data page for monthly surveillance reports, county-level overdose slide sets and data tables on overdose deaths, hospitalizations and ED visits.
- Castlight Health Report: Opioid Crisis in America’s Workforce (2016)
- Ranks Jacksonville, NC 12th in the nation for opioid abuse
Treatment and recovery support services are available for those with a substance use disorder. In North Carolina, Local Management Entities/Managed Care Organizations (LME-MCOs) coordinate care for mental health, substance use and developmental disabilities. To find out which organization manages care in your county, visit: www.ncdhhs.gov/providers/lme-mco-directory
To find treatment options in your area please visit https://www.morepowerfulnc.org/get-help/finding-treatment.
If you or someone you know needs help with a substance use crisis, specific resources for your county can be found here.
If this is a medical or a life-threatening emergency please call 911.
Carolinas Poison Center, 1-800-222-1222
Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
A standing order is a medical order that authorizes the dispensing of a medication, like naloxone or the flu vaccine, to any person who meets criteria designated by the prescriber. North Carolina’s standing order for naloxone, signed by the State Health Director, authorizes any pharmacist practicing in the state of North Carolina and licensed by the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy to dispense naloxone to any person who meets set criteria. These criteria include:
- Being at risk of opiate-related overdose due to medical conditions or history;
- Being the friend or family of someone at risk of opiate-related overdose, thus being able to respond in case of overdose; and
- Being in the position to assist another person at risk of opiate-related overdose.
Naloxone is available under the statewide standing order, without a prescription, at the majority of retail pharmacies in North Carolina. It is covered by most insurance policies. First signed in June 2016, North Carolina is the third state in the country to adopt a statewide standing order for naloxone.