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Henderson County commissioners to look at task force to combat opioid crisis

Henderson County commissioners are looking for immediate relief from the opioid crisis. They want to create a task force that might include police officers, paramedics, drug counselors — anyone directly involved with the crisis. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Henderson County commissioners are looking for immediate relief from the opioid crisis.

They want to create a task force that might include police officers, paramedics, drug counselors — anyone directly involved with the crisis.

"It's not just a government solution. It is a community solution," Craig Halford, executive director of First Contact Addiction Ministries in Hendersonville, said.

He deals with addiction in all walks of life. So, he said, all walks of life need to get involved in ending the opioid crisis.

"People in the community need to realize that the government can't do this. The government will never get us out of this crisis. It's going to take everyone. There needs to be involvement from all sectors of the community," Halford said.

Henderson County manager Steve Wyatt said that was why the Henderson County Board of Commissioners are looking to put together a task force.

"A task force of some of the best and brightest minds in the county, but folks that also have connections with the issues: healthcare, law enforcement, the safety net. Those kind of things. Emergency services,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt said the crisis was an emergency and should be treated as such by the proposed task force.

"My suggestion is … to look at the task force, look at some membership in the next meeting, give them a charge and a short window, like 60 days," Wyatt said.

Wyatt and Halford said jail inmates are one area to start.

"We're told 80 to 90 percent of all individuals who go through the jail system, their issues are drug-related." Halford said. "My opinion is that we need to focus on the guys early, when they start getting in trouble with law enforcement. That is the sign that we need to be doing something intensive to help them before it gets to the place where getting them treatment is going to be much more difficult."

Commissioners are expected to vote on the task force during their meeting on April 18. If it doesn't happen then, it could be voted on in early May.

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