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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Florida faces lawsuits over its new election law, a medical board fines an Indiana doctor for speaking about a 10-year-old's abortion, and Minnesota advocates say threats to cut SNAP funds are off the mark.

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The White House and Speaker McCarthy gain support to pass their debt ceiling agreement, former President Donald Trump retakes the lead in a new GOP primary poll, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is impeached.

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The growing number of "maternity care deserts" makes having a baby increasingly dangerous for rural Americans, a Colorado project is connecting neighbor to neighbor in an effort to help those suffering with mental health issues, and a school district in Maine is using teletherapy to tackle a similar challenge.

Report: Drug Overdoses Climb in North Carolina, Nationwide

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Wednesday, December 28, 2022   

More North Carolinians are struggling with substance-use disorders, according to the latest America's Health Rankings Report.

State data show nine North Carolinians died each day from a drug overdose in 2020, a 40% increase from the previous year.

Dr. Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare employer and individual, reported it mirrors a nationwide trend. She pointed to new data showing drug deaths nationwide increased by 30%.

"This is the largest yearly increase in drug deaths since we've been looking at it in 2007," Randall explained. "That means nearly 92,000 additional people died in the United States due to drug injury and overdose."

There were more than 3,100 drug overdose deaths in North Carolina in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the past two decades, more than 28,000 North Carolinians have lost their lives to drug overdose, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Randall emphasized heavy drug use continues to burden families, communities, the health care system and the economy.

"What we see is a substantial amount of that cause of those drug overdose deaths," Randall noted. "About 70% of it is related to an opioid, in most cases, it's a nonprescription opioid."

While the rate of frequent mental distress reported by residents soared during the pandemic, Randall pointed out bright spots, noting the number of communities nationwide boosting their supply of mental-health and primary-care providers has gone up.

"More people choosing mental health and primary care as a profession," Randall stressed. "More access to mental-health providers."

According to the report, suicide is the 12th-leading cause of death among Americans, with mental illness and substance-use disorders being the most significant risk factors for suicidal behaviors. In 2020, more than 45,000 people nationwide chose to end their lives.

Disclosure: United Healthcare contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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