North Carolina officials say the state has experienced its highest number of overdoses ever in a single year. 

Statistics for 2021 show that 4,041 people in North Carolina lost their lives to overdose. According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, that represents an increase of 22%. Health officials say Illegally manufactured fentanyl has been the driving force behind the severe uptick.

The highest increase in overdose death rates was among Black residents. But another troubling statistic shows that when measured as a portion of the population, American Indian and Indigenous people have the highest overdose death rate.

NCDHHS has taken steps to counter the epidemic with extended mobile crisis care, treatment programs, and other behavioral health efforts.

The agency has established the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and has implemented an action plan to address the issue on multiple fronts.

NCDHHS Secretary Kody Kinsley released a statement urging the expansion of Medicaid services, calling it “the smartest investment we can make” to fight the epidemic. 

Lawmakers in the North Carolina House have approved a Medicaid expansion bill, but the Senate is still debating the issue.

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