STATE OF AFFAIRS: Southeast Shares What’s Happening In Fight Against Addiction

Addiction Campuses checks in on 12 southeastern states about their progress fighting the growing opioid epidemic. Here’s an update on each state's progress.

ONE YEAR LATER: Addiction Campuses Asks “Where Are They Now?”

An Update on the Progress of the Southeastern States

(July 13, 2016) – Over a year ago, Addiction Campuses took to the streets to bring you the most up-to-the-minute, detailed accounts of our nation’s drug epidemic state by state. We spoke with the nation’s top leaders in addiction, recovery, law enforcement and state government to keep readers informed on each state’s progress in battling an epidemic that is killing 100 people a day in the United States. This week we checked in with 12 states in the Southeast region to give you a progress report on the efforts they were initiating and enforcing when we spoke to them last.

West Virginia

Happening Then:

  • The Supreme Court in West Virginia ruled that juries can decide whether or not people addicted to painkiller opiates like Oxycontin, Percocet and Neurontin can sue pharmaceutical companies and doctors for their addiction. Some applauded the decision, while some felt it would cause people suffering from chronic pain who are not addicted even more adversity.
  • A federal report released last year says West Virginia is third in the nation for the number of prescribed painkillers, just behind Alabama and Tennessee.
  • Delegate Chris Stansbury (R-District 35), who introduced a bill passed by the state legislature last year allowing a pilot program to administer Suboxone (a drug used to medically treat methamphetamine addiction) to drug offenders in the West Virginia Justice System, held a summit June 1 at the West Virginia Culture Center that focused on drug addiction in the state.
  • Lt. Steve Cooper, Chief of Detectives for the Charleston Police Department, told Metro News that heroin is an epidemic in the state.
  • According to a lawsuit against Big Pharma, over a period of five years, in a state with less than 2 million people, drug wholesalers shipped more than 200 million doses of two popular painkillers into the state. Lawyers claimed 60 million oxycodone pills and 141 million hydrocodone pills (which contribute to the most overdose deaths in the state) were brought into West Virginia from 2007-2012. The largest claim comes against one of the largest drug companies in the U.S., AmerisourceBergen, who is said to have shipped 80 million hydrocodone pills and 38 million oxycodone pills during the span.

Happening Now:

  • Addiction treatment specialists in Huntington are hoping something called nature assisted therapy is the next step for helping addicts in a program called GRo Huntington.
  • The Obama administration is making it easier for people addicted to opioids to get medically assisted treatment in the state.
  • The West Virginia substance abuse helpline has received more than 3800 calls since September.
  • In regards to gambling addiction, select fantasy sports are legal according to an opioin recently issued by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey after a request from Senate leader Bill Cole (R-Mercer).
  • The percent of children whose parents lack secure employment climbed from 27-30. West Virginia performed most poorly in this area during the past year, with Kentucky close behind. Unemployment and a lack of financial resources can fuel mental health issues and addiction.
  • A few weeks ago, a West Virginia couple was charged with trying to sell their 3 month old baby for $1000. Authorities suspect the pair hoped to exchange the child for drug money.
  • Entire communities are facing the public health risk of HIV and Hepatitis B and C because of needle use associated with substance abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 56 percent of all the counties identified as vulnerable to HIV and Hepatitis B and C outbreaks are in West Virginia, Kentucky or Tennessee.
  • A 5k run/walk has been organized for July 23 in honor of Jessica Grubb, the Charleston native whose battle with addiction captured President Obama’s attention during his visit to West Virginia last year. She died shortly after walking out of a hospital with a powerful prescription for opioids even though it allegedly stated 10 times in her medical paperwork that she was an intravenous drug user.
  • West Virginia has the highest rate of overdose deaths in the U.S.
  • There were about 34 drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people in West Virginia. It’s drug overdose death rate is more than double the national average of 13.4.
  • According to SAMHSA, in West Virginia, about 60,000 adults (4.2% of the population) had serious thoughts of suicide within the past year.
  • About 79,000 adults (5.5%) had a serious mental illness in the past year.
  • Only 148,000 people in West Virginia with a mental illness (46.9%) actually received mental health/counseling for it.
  • About 100,000 individuals (6.3%) were dependent on or abused alcohol within the past year.
  • About 46,000 (2.9%) were dependent on or abused illicit drugs this year.
  • About 83,000 adults (6.1%) reported heavy alcohol use.
  • Among those in West Virginia that reported alcohol dependence or abuse, about 10,000 (11.5%) actually received treatment for it.
  • Among those in West Virginia that reported illicit drug dependence or abuse, about 6000 (13.3%) actually received treatment for it.
  • Although West Virginia ranked No. 1 in the nation in 2014 for drug overdose deaths, the Mountain State is eligible for only a $10 million slice of the $1.1 billion pie President Obama has budgeted to expand access to opioid treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment, across the U.S.


Happening Then

  • “Heroin: The Hardest Hit” told the stories of Virginians in their own words who have been affected by the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic in the state.
  • Heroin overdose fatalities in Virginia had more than doubled from 100 deaths in 2011 to 239 deaths in 2014, while an additional 547 Virginians died from prescription drug overdose in 2014 alone.
  • Attorney General Herring launched a 5-point plan to combat heroin and prescription opiate abuse.
  • In 2014, 728 Virginians lost their lives to heroin and prescription drug overdoses, up from 661 in 2013.
  • Attorney General Herring’s crackdown on heroin-related cases resulted in removing nearly 300,000 doses of heroin from the streets of Virginia.

Happening Now

  • Kicking off a national tour on opioid addiction, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack brought together the governors of Tennessee and Virginia this month to talk about stemming Appalachia’s drug abuse epidemic.
  • Last week, a  group of 40 people with Native American heritage from all over the country set up a ceremony in Virginia to recognize the long journey to sobriety, and the struggles associated with domestic violence.
  • A man who confessed to a robbery that authorities had no idea he had committed pleaded guilty to a lesser felony charge Tuesday in Spotsylvania County Circuit Court. He said he committed the crime because of an addiction to pain pills.
  • In Virginia, about 46,000 adolescents aged 12–17 (7.4% of all adolescents) per year in 2013–2014 reported using illicit drugs within the month prior to being surveyed. The percentage did not change significantly from 2010–2011 to 2013–2014.
  • In Virginia, about 126,000 individuals aged 12–20 (13.4% of all individuals in this age group) per year in 2013–2014 reported binge alcohol use within the month prior to being surveyed. The percentage decreased from 2010–2011 to 2013–2014.
  • In Virginia, about 6 in 10 (59.2%) adolescents aged 12–17 in 2013– 2014 perceived no great risk from having five or more drinks once or twice a week—a percentage similar to the national percentage.
  • In Virginia, about 30,000 adolescents aged 12–17 (4.8% of all adolescents) per year in 2013–2014 reported nonmedical use of pain relievers within the year prior to being surveyed. The percentage did not change significantly from 2010–2011 to 2013–2014.
  • In Virginia, about 75,000 adolescents aged 12–17 (12.0% of all adolescents) per year in 2013–2014 had at least one major depressive episode within the year prior to being surveyed. The percentage increased from 2010– 2011 to 2013–2014.
  • Last year only about 28,000 adolescents aged 12–17 with a major depressive episode (42.4% of all adolescents with MDE) actually received treatment for their depression.
  • About 242,000 adults aged 18 or older (3.9% of all adults) had serious thoughts of suicide last year.
  • About 239,000 adults aged 18 or older (3.8% of all adults) had a serious mental illness
  • Only about 546,000 adults aged 18 or older with a mental illness (50.0% of all adults with AMI) actually received mental health treatment/counseling.
  • About 484,000 adults (7.1%) were dependent on or abused alcohol
  • About 171,000 adults (2.5%) were dependent on or abused illicit drugs
  • About 388,000 adults (6.7%) reported heavy alcohol use
  • Among adults with alcohol dependence or abuse, only about 29,000 individuals (6.3%) actually received treatment for their alcohol use
  • Among adults with illicit drug dependence or abuse, about 20,000 individuals (12.4%) actually received treatment for their illicit drug use


Happening Then

  • Two law firms filed a federal lawsuit against the state for their practice of refusing medical treatment to jailed opiate addicts.
  • The heroin complication was similar to other states in that it started with prescription drug abuse, but different in the sense that, in Kentucky, prescription painkillers were readily available.
  • The state had several bills being mulled over in the legislature, including a needle exchange program.
  • State funded drug programs had seen several cuts.
  • Since 2005, the organization UNITE had provided 3500 people with $5000 vouchers for treatment.

Happening Now

  • Kentucky is poised to receive $18 million in the next two years to treat addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin under the president’s 2017 budget, the White House announced Tuesday.
  • Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, said it’s about time the federal government is pushing a substantial amount of money to states to help with addiction treatment.
  • In 2015, 1,248 people died in Kentucky of drug overdose.
  • Kentucky has been at the forefront of efforts to curb drug abuse with programs like the Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting (KASPER), which in 2012 mandated all doctors log prescriptions.
  • The Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet announced today that eight program areas in Kentucky will receive a total of $15.7 million from the state budget this year to combat heroin and substance abuse in the Commonwealth.
  • Kentucky received high marks for its effort to address opioid painkiller addiction, in a report released by the National Safety Council.
  • A report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 220 U.S. counties are at high risk for a rapid spread of HIV and hepatitis C among drug users. About a quarter of those counties — 54 — are in Kentucky.
  • Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a physician by trade for over 20 years, drafted key elements included in the recently passed Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA).


Happening Then

  • Arkansas saw a significant spike in the use of methamphetamine last year, making it the most abused drug.
  • Arkansas Medical Examiner Dr. Kermit Chandler said his office was seeing a spike in polypharmacy overdose deaths.
  • The state passed the Naloxone Act, making naloxone (a known antidote to heroin overdose) more accessible to the public, as well as the Prescription Monitoring Act to cut down on doctor shopping.
  • The state began attempting to monitor how much heroin comes into the state, and law enforcement agencies didn’t see an uptick in use, but were paying close attention, especially because of its inexpensive nature versus the high price of prescription painkillers on the street.
  • Dr. Channell said one problem they saw in Arkansas was synthetics and bath salts.

Happening Now

  • Like the rest of the nation, Arkansas is experiencing an epidemic of addiction to opioids, or drugs that act on the nervous system to relieve pain, a University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences professor told a state legislative panel Monday.
  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that in 2013 the death rate in Arkansas from opioid poisoning, including overdoses, was about 3.6 per 100,000 people, or about 108 people. The number likely is higher than that because in some opioid-related deaths coroners may not have identified opioid poisoning as the cause.
  • The CDC has estimated that for every death from opioid poisoning there are 10 treatment admissions, 32 emergency room visits, 130 people who abuse or are dependent on opioids and 825 non-medical users of the drugs.
  • Arkansas saw the highest teen birth rates this year, contributing to the stress of children raising children, which has been connected to mental health and addiction issues.
  • Arkansas approved the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare in April, and were able to keep their uninsured percentage below the national average.
  • The Arkansas Human Development Corporation (AHDC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock after the Mexican government gave $40,000 to launch the program Ventanilla de Salud (VDS), which will improve access to healthcare and addiction treatment funding in the Arkansas Hispanic community.
  • The Arkansas Department of Health announced on Tuesday that it doesn’t support recent ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana.
  • Nearly every U.S. governor, including Arkansas’, pledged Wednesday to combat the opioid crisis that is leaving a trail of overdose deaths and misery in their states.
  • Arkansas is known as one of highest states in the country of prescriptions written, with 116 prescriptions per 100 people.
  • Arkansas is the 6th top consumer in the United States for porn, indicating a potential wealth of porn and sex addiction in the state.


Happening Then

  • Prescription pain medicine surpassed alcohol as the drug of choice in Tennessee.
  • Officials laid out 7 goals for the state along with 33 strategies to carry them out.
  • On average, annually, for every person 12 years or older in the state of Tennessee:
  • The epidemic was affecting more women than men.
  • Tennessee was seeing a slight increase in heroin use, but not as much as the states in the northeast
  • The Joint Commission helped by regulating prescribers to not only check for vital signs, but also conduct pain assessments.

Happening Now

  • Whether prescribed or bought on the street, opioid and heroin use are at an all-time high in Middle Tennessee.
  • The 18th Judicial District Drug task force says there were 177 heroin related incidents in 2010 and that number ballooned to more than 1,100 in 2015.
  • The 18th Drug Task Force also says in the last year they have recovered more than six kilos of heroin in their unit alone.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General stopped in Tennessee last month to talk about the persistent opioid crisis.
  • Tennessee could receive up to $24 million to fight heroin and painkiller addiction, if Congress approves the Obama administration’s proposal to provide $1.1 billion in new funding to help treat the opioid epidemic.
  • A report released last month by Vanderbilt University says that patients using opioid painkillers were much more likely to die of heart problems than those using other pain treatments. It found that the opioid patients had a 64% increased risk of death for any reason and a 65% increased risk of cardiovascular death.
  • Death by overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in Tennessee. In 2014, 133 people died in Knox County alone.
  • The Knoxville Police Department told WBIR last month that 26 people have been saved since officers began carrying Naloxone in September 2015.
  • Fourth Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Duane Slone won the Tennessee Public Health Association’s Visionary Award for the Eastern Division of the state, for his work in co-founding the local drug recovery court and his leadership in addressing the epidemic of children born addicted to opiates.
  • Tennessee appears to be making progress in reducing the overall number of prescriptions for painkillers. The number declined by 7%.
  • The Facebook group Tennessee Pain Care for All is pushing for the state to improve its health care system in rural areas, while Addiction Campuses continues to push for more access to mental healthcare and addiction treatment.
  • About 1000 babies born in Tennessee last year were dependent on drugs.
  • Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital Neonatologist Dr. Stephen Patrick has actually found in a group of 110 pregnant women in Tennessee last year, almost ⅓ had at least one opioid prescription during pregnancy for pain relief.
  • In 2012, every 25 minutes an infant had been born with drug withdrawal.
  • About one in 50 babies born in Tennessee are drug dependent. That’s about 3 times the national average.
  • The State Health Department says in the last week of June 2016, 35 babies born that week showed signs of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.
  • The Volunteer State ties with Alabama as the most prescribed states with 143 prescriptions per 100 people. That’s about 1 ½ prescriptions per person in the state.

North Carolina

Happening Then

  • Drug overdose took the lives of 1,358 people in the state of North Carolina during 2014 – more than the number who died in traffic accidents.
  • Officials say fatal drug overdoses in the state killed as many as 16 per 100,000 residents in 2014.
  • A Cherokee County Grand Jury indicted two doctors for fraudulent drug activities for 5 counts of tracking in Opium/Heroin.
  • Law enforcement data indicates that in 2015, the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and Wilmington Police Department seized more heroin in 2015 than in any year since 2012.
  • Law enforcement officials tell local news a bag of heroin usually sells for $12-$18 in Wilmington, and that proceeds often support their city’s gang violence.
  • The state’s fatal drug overdose rate jumped about 75% since 2002.

Happening Now

  • Last month the Governor signed into law a bill that allows the life-saving drug overdose medication Naloxone to be obtained at a pharmacy, no questions asked.
  • First responders in the state say Naloxone has allowed them to save more than 3,300 lives of people who had overdosed on heroin and prescription painkillers.
  • State health officials attribute more than 20,000 emergency room visits and more than 1,000 deaths a year in North Carolina to opioid overdoses.
  • The Guilford County Sheriff’s Office has administered naloxone 600 times since 2014.
  • The North Carolina Medical Board has called prescription drug overdoses a public health crisis.
  • Across Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Gaston, Cleveland, Union and Anson counties, 134 people died from opioid overdoses in 2015.
  • Anchor Allison Latos looked through the 57 autopsy reports for Mecklenburg County and found victims in their 20s to their 60s overdosed on drugs like oxycodone, fentanyl and hydrocodone.
  • The medical board is investigating 12 doctors who are considered high-dose prescribers and 60 physicians who had two or more patient deaths from opioid poisonings between July 2014 and June 2015.
  • Back in March, the North Carolina Department of Health reported that heroin-related overdoses had increased by nearly six hundred percent since 2010.
  • Thirteen of Buncombe County’s seventeen recorded overdoses occurred in 2014.
  • The North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition has begun distributing overdose reversal kits which include naloxone.
  • Naloxone has been administered more than 3,400 times throughout the state in the last three years.
  • An anti-porn amendment was proposed by North Carolina delegate Mary Frances Forrester, which passed last month and became part of the national GOP’s official draft party platform, in an effort to combat porn addiction.
  • The Aurora Studio & Gallery will hold an open house featuring the exhibit “Rays of Dawn, Growth Through Nature” on Saturday, July 23, 2-4 p.m.  in the second floor gallery of the Education Center of The North Carolina Arboretum, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. The exhibit will feature artists from the Aurora Studio and will continue through Sunday, Sept. 18. The open house will include a wishing tree donated by Michael Balogh of Mountain Meadows. Aurora Studio invites the public to add a wish or positive intention to the tree for someone they know who struggles with complications from addiction or mental health needs.
  • On July 11, 2016 Governor McCrory signed a bill that legalizes syringe exchange programs in North Carolina.
  • From 2010-2014 deaths from heroin overdose increased 565% across the state.
  • As a consequence of the increase in injection drug use, hepatitis C, a liver disease spread primarily through the practice of sharing syringes to inject drugs, nearly tripled from 2010-2014.
  • While in 2013, North Carolina Medicaid doled out $8 million to pay for hepatitis C medication, in 2014 the costs rose to a staggering $51 million. The state paid $61 million in 2015.


Happening Then

  • An extremely high number of northwest Louisiana 14 and 15 year olds were addicted to intravenous heroin use.
  • Because there was only one facility in the entire state of Louisiana that provided detox to underage users (CADA), many teens were winding up in the hospital after an overdose – if they were lucky enough to survive.
  • Not only was CADA the only facility that offered detox to adolescents, it was also the only facility that provided detox for adults without insurance in Northwest Louisiana.
  • Also lacking in the state were prescription drug box drop offs.
  • While the number of heroin cases were mostly concentrated to the greater New Orleans area, it was an epidemic quickly spreading across the state.
  • The state of Louisiana had consistently cut drug education, prevention and treatment programs over the past 10 years.
  • Because CADA is a non-profit, they were able to raise funds in the community to provide treatment services to those in need in the state.

Happening Now

  • According to the 2016 Kids Count Data Book compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the worst state to be a kid is Mississippi, followed by New Mexico and Louisiana.
  • The most deadly states for children and teens are Mississippi and Louisiana.
  • Among the states, Utah has the lowest number of single parents with 19 percent, while Louisiana and Mississippi tied at 47.
  • Louisiana is pegged above the 20 percent level for children living amidst concentrated poverty.
  • An August children’s workshop will focus on breaking down important topics for children in a series of interactive sessions. The free community event is made possible through the partnership between Hope Restored Community Center and Family Plus Counseling Services, a program with the Louisiana United Methodist Children and Family Services, according to the Rev. Marcelle Crow, who helped establish Hope Restored. Children ages 7 to 18 are invited to the workshop, which will be held at the new location for Reveille United Methodist Church, 401 Sherrouse Ave., Monroe, on Aug. 6. They can register by calling 318-737-7939. Hope Restored opened in May 2013.
  • Louisiana ranks 8th for porn consumption, indicating a possibility of higher porn addiction rates in the state.


Happening Then

  • Prescription drug abuse was the leading drug of choice; however, there was a more sinister assassin making its way around college campuses. In our conversation with Daisy Carter of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence Mississippi division, we learned about a drug called 25-I that left a college hopeful dead, and a 19 year old diagnosed with schizophrenia. 22 year old Thomas Parker Rodenbaugh was found unresponsive at Mississippi State University from an apparent drug overdose. Two brothers, Daylin (19) and Skylar O’Kelly (21), were charged with manslaughter in connection with Rodenbaugh’s death. Rodenbaugh’s wasn’t the only incident.
  • While the 25-I is an acutely dangerous drug, prescription drug abuse was a more widespread problem.
  • We learned that most of the circulation of prescription pain meds was not on the street in Mississippi, but at home in medicine cabinets.
  • The state had a number of initiatives to try to help the problem. Legislation was proposed that would expand the prescription drug monitoring program to surrounding states.
  • Carter’s organization was working with law enforcement to educate the public on how to properly dispose of medication.
  • Local law enforcement was also working with NCADD on setting up disposal locations throughout the local counties – boxes where people can just drive through and dispose of their hydrocodone, benzos, ect.
  • NCADD helped pass the Social Host Law in 2011, which enforces criminal penalties on any adult who throws a party and a minor is present and obtains alcohol with their knowledge.
  • While Mississippi surpassed the national average in illegal drug use just after Hurricane Katrina, it hadn’t seen a spike in heroin like the other states.

Happening Now

  • According to the 2016 Kids Count Data Book compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the worst state to be a kid is Mississippi.
  • The most deadly state for child teen deaths was Mississippi, according to the report.
  • Mississippi rejected the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare but still got their uninsured percentage below the national average, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data.
  • Mississippi celebrated all-time graduation highs in May, The Columbus Dispatch reported, with just 19.2 percent missing scheduled graduation. In the current Casey report, using 2013 data, Mississippi still stood at 32 percent.
  • The percent of children being raised by a single parent climbed to 47 for Mississippi.
  • Mississippi performed most poorly in the percentage of children whose parents lacked secure employment.
  • Mississippi scored very poorly in the percentage of children living amidst concentrated poverty.
  • Despite petitions from other universities, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Cannabis sativa supply is grown exclusively at the University of Mississippi.
  • On Aug. 1, a group plans to start at the Minnesota headwaters of the Mississippi River and travel the river’s length to the Gulf of Mexico – by kayak. Their friend Colin Crumm of Key Development Center in Brighton, Michigan and Hope Center in Lexington, Kentucky, passed away from cancer in August of 2015, and struggled with alcohol addiction most of his adult life. They are kayaking in honor of Crumm.
  • Mississippi ranks 3rd for the consumption of porn, indicating a possible addiction in the state.


Happening Then

  • The organization most involved and focused on the state’s drug problem was the Alabama Department of Mental Health (ADMH), established in 1965.
  • ADMH regulated and funded the state’s public substance abuse prevention and treatment service delivery system.
  • Three cities in St. Clair County (Moody, Pell City and Riverside) voted to allow Sunday alcohol sales.
  • Heroin addiction had not surpassed alcoholism in Alabama in terms of treatment program admissions.
  • The ADMH increased statewide prevention and education activities relative to heroin and prescription drug misuse, and made an effort to increase access to medication assisted treatment.
  • Alabama did not have needle exchange programs, though many states had enacted them in the wake of several HIV and Hepatitis C outbreaks.
  • 22 people died from an overdose of Fentanyl or a combination of Fentanyl and heroin in the first 3 months of 2015.
  • The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA), slashed federal funds to the state’s local drug enforcement units, thanks to the U.S. Department of Justice repeatedly cutting the funds awarded to the state.

Happening Now

  • Gov. Robert Bentley joined 45 other states’ governors by signing the Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction, developed by and released through the National Governors Association, Wednesday. This marks the first time in more than 10 years that governors have developed a compact through NGA to spur coordinated action on an urgent national issue. At the 2017 Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., NGA will report on specific steps governors have taken to meet their commitments and build on existing efforts.
  • In Alabama, 723 people died in 2014 of all drug overdoses, up from 598 in 2013.
  • People addicted to opioids are overpopulating Alabama’s prisons. 4 out of 5 arrests in Walker County are drug related.


Happening Then

  • About an hour away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Atlanta, a barefoot 30 year old Kelly Camp walked out of jail, with no possessions outside of what she was wearing, with one mission: to be addiction’s worst enemy. We interviewed her. Camp started drinking alcohol at age 11, and it didn’t stop there. By the time she was 13, she was heavily addicted to meth, and started making it. Kelly’s charges ranged from manufacturing meth, possession, distribution to forgeries and obstruction charges. At 25 years old, she had 2 children and even more felonies. September 16 of last year, Camp walked out of jail for the 13th time, with 19 felonies on her record. A report from 2012 had indicated an increase in the availability of Mexican heroin in Atlanta. Camp organized a rally called “Break Every Chain”, in the hopes of bringing a rehab center to her rural town.

Happening Now

We caught up with Kelly this morning.

“I would love to tell you that all the drugs are gone and LaGrange is brand new,” says Camp. “However, for everyone in recovery, another falls into addiction.”

Camp’s organization is still fighting the fight though. They are still doing events to raise awareness, and those events have been very successful. Their drug courts and Sheriff’s Office has gotten behind them and attended these events. So far their attendance has been outstanding.

“We haven’t tackled the entire battle, but Troup County will open its first aftercare center for women,” says Camp. “The building is planned to break ground in September.”

Camp says they will have a very exciting summer. Many churches and ministries are pulling together. They had one event just this week where they gathered to pray for law enforcement on the square. Break Every Chain will hold its 3rd event in October. The name of the new aftercare facility will be Next Crossroads.

“This community really is something special,” says Camp. “The Holy Spirit is taking over this town.”

South Carolina

Happening Then

  • In terms of abuse, opioids were not South Carolina’s most widely used drug, but it was the one killing the most people in the state.
  • The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services was working with law enforcement agencies to get Naloxone, a known antidote to opioid overdose, into their hands to help reduce deaths.
  • LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, is a treatment based program that helps people receive treatment instead of jail time.
  • The actual number of overdose deaths in the state was hard to determine, because coroners had a lack of toxicology report capabilities.
  • Needle exchange programs were illegal in the state.
  • Fentanyl laced heroin trafficked in the state caused a rise in overdose deaths in the areas it traveled through.
  • Law enforcement put into place very effective interventions on South Carolina’s main interstate, but a lot of the traffickers were diverting to other off roads and distributing.
  • Federal officials with the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and Human Services met in Beaufort to discuss access to opioid addiction treatment in the rural parts of the state.
  • Of the 291,438,514 pills prescribed in the state last year, 14.5 million opioid pills were dispensed in Charleston County, 10.5 million in Berkeley County and 7.9 million in Dorchester County.
  • More than 500 people died from opioid abuse in South Carolina in 2014.
  • Organizations were calling for more community town halls to happen.

Happening Now

  • On Wednesday, the National Governors Association announced 46 governors have signed a compact to help stop drug abuse. The compact asks governors to raise awareness about the problem and to encourage treatment and recovery. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley was one of those who signed the contract.
  • Some South Carolina doctors are throwing support behind a new way to treat those battling opioid addiction, an epidemic that claimed more than 500 lives in South Carolina in 2014. Probuphine, a surgical implant that is placed under the skin on the inside of the upper arm, was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, counseling isn’t required and the fact that patients could go 6 months without seeing a doctor or a counselor is concerning.
  • President Barack Obama’s budget proposal would make South Carolina eligible for another $11 million over 2 years to combat opioid addiction.


Happening Then

  • Florida was home to some of the most highly publicized drug incidents last year, due largely to the abuse of a highly addictive synthetic drug known as Flakka.
  • “Flaca”, when spelled with a “c”, is the Spanish word for “skinny”.
  • Certain properties found in this drug are more intense than methamphetamine or cocaine.
  • Flakka, also known as Gravel (a popular term for the drug in Ohio), is very dose-specific.
  • Experts called it the worst rash of cases since the peak of crack cocaine.
  • Manufactured in China, the drug is often sold on an underground internet known as the darknet.
  • Because of the price, flakka is marketed to very poor neighborhoods.
  • A person who is high on flakka may exhibit agitation, aggressiveness, paranoia and delusional behavior – similar to someone high on methamphetamines or cocaine.
  • They sometimes exhibit super strength.
  • Perhaps the most publicized incident with flakka happened last year in Melbourne when officers responded to Parsons and Edgewood in response to a male that was jumping in front of vehicles and chasing them.
  • If someone has reached the point of Excited Delirium (EDS), common when taking flakka, and they don’t receive immediate medical attention, they could die from symptoms similar to having a heat stroke.
  • The Broward County United Way Commission on Substance Abuse noticed an escalating number of deaths due to the effects of flakka, and laid out an action plan targeted at educating communities and law enforcement.
  • A Florida hospital saw around 20 patients in the emergency room a day last year.
  • Between April 24 and May 22, the state saw 10 overdose deaths.
  • Broward County saw the most action, but in 2014 Southeast Florida had 21% of all crime lab cases associated with flakka.
  • Another issue in cutting the supply of flakka is that it is mostly carried by smaller, mid-level dealers.
  • It’s very easy to overdose on flakka because it’s very dose-specific.
  • Flakka can be consumed a number of ways.
  • Because this drug floods the brain, it can take up to 30 days before someone can begin to think clearly and process thoughts again.
  • Flakka leaves its users with a short memory span and it’s hard to pay attention in treatment.
  • While flakka is illegal in most states because of its high potency, the threshold of drug trafficking doesn’t exist.
  • Pressure was put on China to ban distribution of the drug.
  • Experts recommended extra training for law enforcement and emergency rooms.
  • Another issue contributing to the epidemic was treatment.
  • When dealing with insurance companies and synthetic drugs, you can have the best insurance in the world, but they do not feel that it requires an inpatient or residential level of care.

Happening Now

  • A Florida man is wanting to buy and convert a closed motel at the Interstate 71/Route 161 interchange into a residential center for recovering addicts and people with other issues.
  • A new Florida law aims to help those battling drug addiction get the help they need simply by asking for it. Parents hope this could help end the cycle of substance abuse. The law is basically a union of health professionals and law enforcement. The “No Wrong Door” policy opens up a new avenue for users by taking away the fear of getting in trouble or being arrested.
  • Florida already has a law that allows parents to involuntarily commit their adult child for drug treatment. Recently, it’s been a law in as many as 33 states. Legislation impacting civil liberties draws close scrutiny, and critics have underscored the potential for abuse of civil commitment in the case of addiction. However, large numbers of people say they wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for the law.
  • Heroin use in northwest Florida is exploding. In Okaloosa County, there have been about 4 dozen heroin-related arrests so far this year. There were 63 all of last year. Five years ago, there was just one.
  • Senator Marco Rubio (R-FLa.) has been fighting for the recently passed Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act (CARA), saying “We have a major opioid addiction problem in Florida and throughout our nation, and this legislation is an important step to addressing this health crisis that is taking lives and destroying families.”



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