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Growing opioid problem topic of discussion at forum

Law enforcement and other judicial and legal officials were part of Tuesday's opioid forum. (Greg Payne, NewsChannel 12 photo)

Law enforcement and judical leaders were serious about a growing problem impacting our area.

The opioid issue brought officials from Craven, Carteret, Pamlico and Beaufort counties to the Stanly Hall Ballroom in downtown New Bern on Tuesday. Those leaders were part of a packed house which came together to see what is being done to tackle the local opioid epidemic.

"Our goal ultimately is to make our counties as safe as possible while working together we are going to make a huge impact on eastern north Carolina," Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said.

"If somebody walks into the Carteret County sheriff’s office or any of the sheriffs offices represented here ... if somebody says hey I need help, somebody is going to stop what they are doing and help," Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck said.

That togetherness doesn't end with law enforcement. Officials said community involvement goes a log way, too.

"Until a parent realizes it takes tough love and to get that person some help, even if it means getting arrested that night, saving their life and someone else, it is the the right thing to do," said Lt. Russell Davenport with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

Officials said the next step is taking responsibility in helping if you're aware of the problem.

"We are sending these people around the ring when in reality, when they come to you and it is something that you can handle, get out there and handle the situation," Pamlico County Sheriff Chris Davis said.

Among the many leaders was one person who found himself on the other end of the discussion as a recovering addict.

"I came here to try to let others know that there is hope beyond being locked up in jail for people suffering from addiction, that there’s a chance at a better life," said Michael Hopkins.

Hopkins said his addiction started after taking pain pills for an injury he had after falling off a roof. Now, he's getting a second chance.

"That created a dependency and unfortunately I battled that for the last twelve years of my life," Hopkins said.

"They provided me with a source of income a safe environment to work and to be able to be open about who I am and the things of my past."

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