With death rate exceeding state average, Craven County officials working to solve growing opioid problem


NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — The opioid overdose rate in Craven County is higher than the state average. It’s part of a growing epidemic seen nationwide.

Leaders in Craven County say they see the issue and are working to combat it.

“As I look at the Vanceboro, Arnold, Wilmer, Fort Brumwell those are the areas where we are receiving the highest number of overdose,” said Greg Singleton, the director of the Craven-Pamlico Reentry Council.

In 2019, the rate of unintentional overdose deaths was 35.2, higher than the state average of 17.2.

“85% percent of the people that are sentenced in Craven County possess a mental health or substance abuse issue,” said Singleton.

Singleton said it is due to the lack of access to education.

“Our number one area of dispatch for overdose is in Vanceboro. Why Vanceboro? Vanceboro, one way, is 23 to 26 miles from feasible education,” Singleton said.

Singleton believes there’s no quick fix. It takes the community uniting resources to fight the opioid epidemic.

“Religious Community Services (in New Bern), they provide a hot meal every single day for those that are in an impoverished state. NC Works, who are trying to field job positions, that’s a resource,” he said.

Hope Recovery Homes is a substance abuse treatment program. The program is now partnering with the Craven County Sheriff’s Office to help people in jail with substance abuse issues.

“We’ve had several folks succeed from the Craven County program. About four right now currently in the program and we’ve had several to complete. We’ve planted a seed. They know where they can get help,” said Ken Johnstin, director of Hope Recovery Homes.

Craven-Pamlico Reentry Council offers a job readiness boot camp. Singleton is working to host a monthly resource fair for those in need.

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