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WNC Substance Use Alliance aims for opioid addicts

A new effort among healthcare providers in Western North Carolina aims to fight the rising tide of opioid addicts.

The Western North Carolina Substance Use Alliance was started by Vaya Health. It brings together multiple agencies to increase access to treatment and strengthen prevention and education.

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The numbers of addicts and overdoses is skyrocketing, and doctors say it can happen so easily it's scary.

"A person who goes to get surgery and needs pain medication when they get out can become addicted in two months," said Dr. Blake Fagan, assistant director of Family Medicine Residency Program at MAHEC.

Those are extreme examples, but it doesn't take long for someone to get the "high" from pain pills that goes beyond just relieving their pain -- and that high can become addictive, particularly to those who are at risk.

It's also affecting pregnant mothers in WNC at alarming rates.

"Last year, 10 percent of babies born at Mission Hospital were to mothers on opiods or in withdrawal," Fagan said.

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One of the four subcommittees of the alliance will be specifically directed at women in that position.

Medication Assisted Treatment, separate Adult and Child Treatment Continuums and Pregnant Substance Use Services are the four areas to be targeted by the alliance.

Doctors hope these efforts will be more successful in keeping people off opioids and preventing them from using with better education.

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