WASHINGTON, D.C. Gov. Roy Cooper went to the White House last week for the first meeting of President Donald Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, a group established in March by executive order. Cooper, as a member of the commission, pushed for federal spending and new efforts to target illegal drug trafficking.This commission meets at a desperate time for N.C. as opioid deaths have increased 265 percent statewide since 2000 and heroin deaths have increased 800 percent according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services. There have been almost 10,000 deaths from these drugs in North Carolina since 1999.”We can’t arrest our way out of the opioid crisis,” Cooper said. “Too many people are going through a revolving door of emergency rooms into prison.”During the meeting, Cooper recommended that the federal government should work to stop fentanyl and similar opioids from coming into the country by stopping drug kingpins and traffickers.He praised law enforcement who practice diversion, a tactic where people with minor drug offenses have the opportunity to complete a course instead of going through a typical court process.He also urged that pharmaceutical companies make drugs that are more “tamper-resistant” as well as finding drugs that are not as addictive as many current opioids are.The North Carolina budget compromise proposed by the Senate and House Monday night included $10 million to support opioid and substance abuse treatments centers.The commission is chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and also includes Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, former congressman Patrick Kennedy, Harvard professor Dr. Bertha Madras and Cooper. In the meeting, nine different experts in treatment, prevention and education testified and were then questioned by the commission members.
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