PNS Daily Newscast - April 25, 2019 

The Supreme Court considers U.S. Census citizenship question – we have a pair of reports. Also on the Wednesday rundown: A look at how poor teacher pay and benefits can threaten preschoolers' success. And the Nevada Assembly votes to restore voting rights for people who've served their time in prison.

Daily Newscasts

Opioid Epidemic Declared Public Health Crisis: Is NC Ground Zero?

North Carolina is home to four of the 25 worst cities in the U.S. for opioid abuse, according to a 2017 report from Castlight Health. (Marco Verch/Flickr)
North Carolina is home to four of the 25 worst cities in the U.S. for opioid abuse, according to a 2017 report from Castlight Health. (Marco Verch/Flickr)
October 27, 2017

WILMINGTON, N.C. – The opioid crisis plaguing states such as North Carolina is officially declared a public health emergency. That announcement on Thursday by President Donald Trump confirms what many have already known about the country's issues with drug addiction.

Supporters hope the announcement clears the way for swift action and funding to help states.

Jessica Nickel, president, and CEO of the Addiction Policy Forum, was in Washington for the administration's announcement.

"This is a full-blown crisis," she says. "We're losing 144 people a day to drug overdoses. That's like a plane crash every single day in America for an entire year. Or, put another way, it's like losing a sold-out Yankee Stadium all in one second."

One hitch in the efforts to expand addiction assistance is that there's currently no funding available to support a public health emergency in the federal budget, and Congress must take action to make that money available. If it had been declared a public emergency, as Trump hinted he would do in August, Federal Emergency Management funds would be immediately available.

More than 1,200 people died from drug overdoses in North Carolina in 2015. Wilmington, Hickory, Jacksonville and Fayetteville are listed as four of the worst cities for opioid abuse nationwide.

While the Trump administration indicates a desire for quick action in the opioid crisis, efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act could make it difficult for some addicts to access proper care. Nickel says it's something the Addiction Policy Forum is watching.

"The ACA has begun to integrate the treatment of substance-abuse disorders into health care, so we are paying close attention to make sure that any changes to our health-care system do not negatively impact our families and patients that need treatment for addiction," she notes.

On Thursday, Nickel's organization released a four-year plan to address addiction in America. Developed by experts, she says it recommends helping families in crisis, integrating treatment into health care, increasing funding, rethinking how the criminal-justice system deals with addiction, and protecting children affected by the crisis.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - NC