More than half of HHS seniors have been touched by the national opioid crisis, a recent survey suggests.

Twenty-one of 40 HHS seniors randomly surveyed said they knew someone struggling with opioid addiction. The informal survey, which was conducted for a dual enrollment English class at the school, did not specify the subject’s relationship to the addict - whether the person was a family member, friend or acquintance.

The same students were asked whether opioid addiction is a problem in Hendersonville, and 29 of them (73 percent) answered “yes.”

Hendersonville Police Officer Timothy Roller said he encounters someone at least once a week who is “either in some kind of medical distress over opioids or has been involved in a crime and the driving factor behind it, say shoplifting, is opioids.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that more than 90 Americans a day (about 33,000 a year) die after overdosing on opioids, a classification of drugs that includes prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, heroin, and fentanyl.

To put the figures into context, consider that 58,200 Americans lost their lives during the entire Vietnam War.

“It’s getting worse,” Roller said of the problem in Hendersonville. “I don’t have any specific numbers on where we stand but it seems like two years ago we never saw anything like this; now, if we arrest a shoplifter it is unusual not to find loaded needles, heroin or pills.”

Story by Giulia Giordani, Kayla Delk and Kelsey Dotson


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