Tag Opioid Use Disorder

North Carolina HB258

In July 2023, Community Education Group and community advocates working on harm reduction policy in North Carolina shared these questions with the NC Senate Health Committee.

Questions for legislators to ask about HB258:

  • When North Carolina passed the Death by Distribution law four years ago, it was framed as a way to go after high-level traffickers, and lawmakers specifically said they didn’t want to go after friends or family members of those who died from an accidental overdose.. This new bill would broaden the law so that people who do not sell drugs, but who simply share drugs that result in death, can be charged with the crime. This will inevitably sweep up friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, siblings and other people who are using drugs together. It will result in heartbreak on top of heartbreak.  Why has this change strayed so far from what lawmakers said just four years ago? 
  • This bill reverts to the old drug war playbook. We’ve said for years that “we can’t arrest our way out of this problem.” Punitive approaches haven’t worked to reduce drug use or negative health consequences for the past 50 years. What makes you think this time will be different?
  • There is a cycle where the public becomes alarmed about new drugs and policy makers increase penalties. This happened in the 80s with crack cocaine. But we must remain clear-headed when making policy decisions and follow the evidence of what works. I have seen no evidence to show that drug-induced homicide (death by distribution) charges decrease overdose or result in less drugs in communities. Have you found empirical evidence supporting this idea?
  • We do have evidence that public health approaches work to address drug use and reduce deaths. Punitive approaches undermine this by actually making people more afraid to seek help. There is research showing that drug-induced homicide laws make people more hesitant to call 911 in overdose emergencies. Won’t this bill make people less likely to call for help?
  • There seems to be the feeling that even if death by distribution laws do not result in lower overdose deaths, that there is still the need to “send a message” and that there is not a real downside to this approach. But emerging evidence is showing that criminalization can actually undermine public health goals. There is a new study that was just published in the American Journal of Public Health showing that drug seizures result in increased overdoses in the surrounding area in the days and weeks following that seizure. They called it the “drug bust paradox.” And right here in North Carolina, research has supported the notion that drug-induced homicide arrests can result in riskier drug use. As we rush to pass these laws because it seems like the right thing to do, wouldn’t it be better to study the impact that our current death by distribution law has had, to see the impact it’s having before we expand the practice?
  • We hear from people who use drugs and advocates that some key changes are needed to our Good Samaritan law in order to ensure that people are willing to call for help. One change is that all drugs should be covered, which this bill does do. But they have pointed out other changes that North Carolina needs to make: We need to join 30 other states that provide immunity for not just prosecution but also arrest. This is a feature of Good Samaritan laws that are effective in reducing overdose deaths. Florida and Virginia recently amended their laws to include this common-sense provision. Another change is that we need to protect others who provide aid at the scene – not just the caller and victim. And we know that the Death by Distribution law prevents people from calling. In an overdose emergency, saving a life should be the number one priority. If you were a parent of someone overdosing, would you want anything to stand in the way of a call for help? Would it be more important to you that your child survive or that someone is punished for their death? Why are the Good Samaritan provisions in this bill so limited?
Track North Carolina HB258!

Take the Opioid Treatment Program Moratorium Survey

In 2007, the West Virginia legislature passed a moratorium (§16-5Y-12) on the opening of new Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) that offer Methadone for use in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).

Since the passage of (§16-5Y-12), West Virginia’s opioid addiction crisis has raged out of control, leaving with the highest rate of Drug Overdose Deaths, the highest rate of new Hepatitis A infections, the highest rate of new Hepatitis B infections, and the second-highest rate of new Hepatitis C infections in the United States in 2018. In addition, Injection Drug Use (IDU) of both opioids, and stimulants accounted for 91 (62.3%) of the 146 new HIV infections in West Virginia in 2019.

#CEGInWV is asking providers, Community-Based Organizations, and individuals about the OTP Moratorium.

Inaugural West Virginia Statewide Stakeholder Meeting a Resounding Success

#CEGInWV hosted a very successful inaugural West Virginia Statewide Stakeholder Meeting, on Tuesday, September 1st, 2020.

The meeting brought together 65 individuals and organizations, including state government and public health officials, healthcare providers, national organizations, school board officials, Community-Based Organizations, and others from across West Virginia.

CEG’s Founder and Executive Director, A. Toni Young, presented about CEG’s work in the state of West Virginia, including the following:

  1. Working to deconstruct disease state silos between Substance Use Disorder, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis by increasing awareness, education, and building linkage to care networks;
  2. Working to overturn West Virginia’s 2007 legislative moratorium (§16-5Y-12) on new Opioid Treatment Programs that offer Methadone for use as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT);
  3. Working to expand HIV screening, rapid testing, surveillance, treatment, and linkage to care throughout West Virginia, reaching into hard-to-reach and hard-to-treat parts of the states;
  4. Working with the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, Department of Health and Human Resources, and Office of Laboratory Services to clarify, adapt, and revise West Virginia’s HIV testing statute (§64-64);
  5. Working to increase Viral Hepatitis vaccination, testing, surveillance, and treatment services throughout the state;
  6. Helping to develop statewide elimination plans for HIV and Viral Hepatitis;
  7. Developing statewide working groups focused on SUD, HIV, and Viral Hepatitis;
  8. Establishing regular statewide stakeholder meetings to discuss strategies for addressing West Virginia’s most pressing public health needs.

Toni was joined by Ana Paula Duarte (Southern AIDS Coalition), Adrienne Simmons (National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable), Nicole Elinoff (National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors – NASTAD), and Mike Weir (NASTAD), all of whom presented on their respective areas of expertise.

The video of this first meeting has been made available on CEG’s YouTube channel (here), and the full meeting was streamed live on CEG’s Facebook page (here). You can also download the slides used during the meeting by clicking on their respective buttons.

Thank you, to everyone who attended this first meeting, and we look forward to working with our partners across West Virginia to build a stronger community, one project at a time.