Pamlico Tops State In Overdose Deaths*

* Denotes per capita basis

Is ‘syringe exchange’ for addicts best use of opioid settlement monies?

BAYBORO – The county’s share from Big Pharma’s multi-billion dollar settlement of opioid litigation will arrive via installments over the next 18 years. Please see timetable below. Monday night, the seven-member Board of County Commissioners got its first look at two formal proposals on ways these funds can be spent at a local level to ameliorate the crisis.

One proposal, tentatively submitted by the Pamlico County Board of Health, drew the ire of Commissioner Candy Bohmert.

“There is no where on this planet that I could ever vote for a needle exchange program for addicts,” said a clearly miffed Bohmert. “If an addict gets a needle (for his habit) he does not care where it comes from. I am just not going to do anything to enable somebody to do it. I am not putting a needle in the hands any addict.”

This newspaper has asked Bohmert to submit a Commentary for next week’s issue. We also welcome input from readers. Please email thoughts and opinions to:

Based upon printed materials furnished to the county’s elected officials, the initiative – officially known as Syringe Services – is permitted in North Carolina, by way of legislation approved in July 2016, which allows for the legal establishment of hypodermic syringe and needle exchange programs “that promote scientifically proven ways of mitigating health risks associated with drug use and other high risk behaviors.”

According to the NC Department of Health & Human Services, there are currently 42 officially registered ‘Syringe Services Programs’ in North Carolina “directly serving 56 of the state’s 100 counties.” That statement implies success but a closer look at numbers served and outcomes is far less convincing.

The second proposal came from long-time county employee Violet Ollison, who is Director of Senior Services. Titled “Hire of a Substance Abuse/Peer Support Counselor,” that document seemed to garner a more favorable reception from elected officials. However, the search for ways and means has not yet concluded. Over the next several weeks, look for well publicized and formal ‘Request for Proposals’ presumably from anyone or any organization that envisions a viable remedy or solution. For details on how to submit a proposal, call the County Manager’s office at (252) 745-3133.