Opioid overdoses continue to rise in NC, straining treatment facilities

Coronavirus

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As opioid overdoses continue to rise in North Carolina, addiction recovery centers like Healing Transitions’ Women’s Campus are being stretched thin by the increase and consistently reach capacity.

“Meth, fentanyl, alcohol, benzos, we see people that are struggling with everything,” said Decorba White, who works at Healing Transitions and just celebrated three years of sobriety.

Crews broke ground on an extension to the facility on Tuesday that will help with the growing need.

In 2020, opioid overdoses increased 34 percent in North Carolina, according to the CDC. Data from the State Department of Health and Human Services shows 8,333 went to an Emergency Room for overdoses in 2020.

“When you have the trauma of being in an active addiction as well and the trauma of COVID of people isolating, not being able to go out and just not being comfortable in the world and everything changing, I’ve seen the in-and-out has been greater,” White said of why so many people are turning to drugs or relapsing during the pandemic.

Many turn to the ER when places like Healing Transitions reach capacity.

“It’s the first time in our 20 year history we’ve had to tell people ‘no,’” said Chris Budnick, executive director of Healing Transitions. “We’re used to saying ‘yes’ anytime they’re asking for help, we’re used to saying ‘yes’ when law enforcement or EMS shows up with someone.”

He added, “Normal capacity by design in our women’s campus is 88 beds. We’ve bunked up to 120. We were averaging 137 pre-COVID. Since COVID has been going on, we’ve been operating at 115.”

The expansion to the women’s facility will add 90 new beds, and more restrooms and showers, space that is desperately needed now more than ever.

“We say that we’re the last house on the block and that house needs to have room for everybody,” White said of the important role they play in helping women with sobriety. “That’s why I’m glad that we’re expanding and breaking ground so that we don’t ever have to tell people no.”

Budnick tells CBS 17 the city and county pitched in a combined $8 million to help build the extension. It’s expected to be completed by sometime next summer.

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