NCDHHS: Fentanyl-related overdose deaths in NC has increased each year since 2016 when deaths rose from 442 to 3,163 in 2021.









(The Charlotte Observer, Kallie Cox, 12,12,22)

A coalition of advocates, including parents who have lost children to overdose deaths, is calling on legislators to expand North Carolina’s Good Samaritan Law. One key change they want is for fentanyl — the biggest driver of fatal overdoses — to be listed alongside drugs like cocaine and heroin. These advocates say North Carolina’s law is behind most of the rest of the country when it comes to saving lives claimed by drug overdoses.

Namely, due to the recent re-classification of fentanyl possession as a felony, it is not covered under the state’s Good Samaritan Law. Expand Good Sam NC, the coalition advocating for change, argues that those who use drugs are terrified to call 911 to report an overdose because of loopholes in the law that can lead to legal repercussions and arrest.

Fentanyl was recently re-classified as a felony drug in the state, meaning the law does not protect those who overdose on it. If bystanders — those who witness someone overdosing on fentanyl — are themselves in possession of the drug, they do not automatically have legal protections. A person who calls for help about their own overdose on fentanyl can also be prosecuted.

“People do not want to call 911,” said Lauren Kestner, Queen City Harm Reduction’s associate director. “So fentanyl expansion is not only required because (our law) was the weakest across the U.S. but also because now fentanyl is pretty much dominating the drug supply.”

The number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths in North Carolina has steadily increased each year since 2016 when deaths rose from 442 to 3,163 in 2021, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. In 2021 in North Carolina, dying of an overdose was nearly three times more common than dying in a car accident. That’s even when traffic deaths in the state were at an all-time 20-year high according to U.S. News and World Report. There were 3,304 overdose-related deaths in 2021 — the overwhelming majority involved fentanyl — and 1,755 traffic deaths. [Source]