JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – We are less than half way through 2016 and Onslow and Pamlico County Sheriff’s Offices are seeing an increase of drug abuse.
So far this year, emergency services in Onslow County have responded to nearly ten drug-related overdoses. Pamlico County has responded to three.
That compares to 2015 when Onslow County responded to 61 overdoses and Pamlico County had 16.
WNCT dug into what the numbers mean for the counties and how officials are working to curb the problem.
The fight against the destructive drug problem in the east continues for both the Pamlico and Onslow County Sheriff’s Offices. They say their biggest concern is the increase in heroin use.
“Drug abuse takes people’s personal freedom away,” said Sheriff Hans Miller of Onslow County.
Law enforcement officials say they are making moves to tackle the problem at its root and are also sending out a warning to criminals.
“Anybody that sells drugs is a drug dealer,” said Sheriff Chris Davis of Pamlico County.
In 2015, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office says they busted 18 meth labs.
So far this year, deputies say they’ve made nearly 70 possession-related arrests.
In Pamlico County, deputies busted six meth labs and took over 93 grams of heroin off the streets.
Investigators say prescription pills are fueling the crime trend.
“Prescription medication itself has driven the heroin use,” said Major Chris Thomas with the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.
“When people get hooked on an opioid pill they are getting from a doctor or off the street that’s a prescribed pill they can’t find it and have to have it so they resort to using heroin.”
In Pamlico County, more than 1500 units of prescription pills have been seized in the past year.
Sheriff Davis says just three weeks ago two Pamlico County Middle School students overdosed, which pushed county leaders to seek action to combat the dilemma.
“It’s just something that’s widespread and running rampid. We’ve really got to do a better job at getting the community to buy in and keep these kids off of drugs,” said Sheriff Davis.
Sheriff Miller says an overdose doesn’t just affect the addict.
“It’s not a victimless crime because when somebody ingests hard drugs they leave victims around them.”
Both Sheriff’s say a majority of people currently in their jails face drug charges or drugs were in their system when they were arrested.
According to the North Carolina Crime Control about 85 percent of all crimes are directly related to the use or distribution of narcotics.