New Numbers Show How Devastating Opioid Crisis Is In Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC. — New numbers show how devastating the opioid crisis is in Charlotte. Overdose deaths are up 35%. Doctors are more hesitant to prescribe pain medication, making it hard for people with chronic pain to find relief.

Like Kara Konrad, who is in a wheelchair and spends most of her days in bed. She has debilitating pain from a catastrophic spinal injury. Pain medication helped her manage, but because of the opioid epidemic, Konrad’s doctor had to lower her dosage.

“I am never not in pain that makes it hard to function,” says Konrad.

The CDC published guidelines in 2016 for prescribing opioids for chronic pain that made it harder for chronic pain suffers, like Konrad, to get the medication they need. In 2018, North Carolina lawmakers went even further and limited how many opioid pills doctors can prescribe at one time.

“As physicians, sometimes you’re caught in a bind. You have to figure out if people are faking it. These laws can be helpful in weeding those patients out that really need it,” says Dr. Tony Hysco with Carolina Physical Medicine.

CMPD officers responded to 122 deadly overdoses in 2017. A 35% increase from the year before. Officers handled 25 overdose calls a month in 2018.

White men ages 20-to-40 made up 46% of cases. The black community has seen an increase in cases over the last three years from 9.5% to about 13%.

“We want to extract the shame and the stigma from this issue. It’s an epidemic, it’s an addition, we want to treat it as such,” says CMPD Chief Kerr Putney.