GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) – Drug overdose deaths are on the rise in Guilford County.
Overdose deaths have increased more than 100% in the county in the last five years, according to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
There have already been dozens of overdose deaths and hundreds of overdoses in the county this year. A contaminated drug supply on the streets is causing overdose deaths to spike.
Triad organizations have stepped in to help combat the crisis.
Guilford County Solution to the Opioid Problem (GCSTOP) is an organization dedicated to preventing repeat overdoses, counseling users and connecting them to treatment options.
“I couldn’t stop it,” said Todd Perry, a UNC Greensboro student in recovery. “I had to feed that addiction.”
Perry told FOX8 he was addicted to drugs for 18 years.
“I was at the point to where it was either die or do something different,” he said. “I knew I didn’t want to die.”
He felt isolated and in a constant cycle of using drugs.
“When I crossed that line, and it had me, I was in the grips, and I couldn’t stop if I wanted to,” Perry said. “I was powerless.”
It slowly destroyed his life. He said after each high he would search for stronger drugs.
“At the end, I had lost everything,” he said. “I was homeless. I had nowhere to go. I was staying anywhere I could stay.”
Perry received help from GCSTOP before entering treatment.
“The same Narcan I got from GCSTOP saved my life,” Perry said. “When I come back from that, I wanted to go get more.”
This year has been overwhelming for the GCSTOP Post-Overdose Response Team because of the increasingly contaminated drug supply.
“Chemicals or substances are in the drugs, so they are tainted,” said Genesis Gardner, the team coordinator.
Within the first two months of 2022, there were 30 suspected overdose deaths in Guilford County, according to reports from city and county agencies. The deadly drug Fentanyl is becoming more common.
“A lot of dealers may be getting their stuff from the same person,” she said. “Multiple dealers may have it.”
A Guilford County Emergency Services spokesperson told FOX8 nearly 300 doses of the opioid reversal drug Naloxone have been administered since the New Year.
Naloxone kits and Fentanyl test strips are tools GCSTOP shares with users to prevent an overdose.
“You can actually test your substance before you use it to see if Fentanyl is in there,” Gardner said.
Those tools saved Perry’s life. He got treatment and is now in his third year of recovery.
“There’s another way to live,” he said. “You don’t have to live like that. There are people that care. Just reach out to somebody and ask for help.”
Perry is an active member of the Spartan Recovery Program: another Triad organization meeting people where they are for peer support and recovery.
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