"We Are A Community United Against Heroin"
Day Long Summit Addresses Epidemic of Heroin & Opioid Addiction In Indian Country & Surrounding Areas
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina in partnership with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and the Cherokee Indian Police Department hosted a day long community awareness summit on the epidemic of heroin and prescription opioid abuse and the related overdose deaths in Indian Country and surrounding areas in western North Carolina.
“Heroin addiction is not a public health concern. It is a public health crisis. The alarming rate of deaths attributed to heroin overdoses in the Western District of North Carolina and the increasing rate of addiction to opiates and prescription drugs demand our immediate attention,” said U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose. “As law enforcement we cannot arrest our way out of this epidemic. The Justice Department’s three-pronged approach combines law enforcement action with prevention and treatment efforts. Stemming the flow of drugs, stopping more people from using opiates, and treating those who have become addicted requires coordination and collaboration with our state, local and tribal partners, community leaders, healthcare providers, service groups and community members. Working together we can succeed in implementing a comprehensive strategy that offers viable solutions, delivers sustainable results, and brings relief to afflicted communities,” U.S. Attorney Rose added.
Approximately 110 professionals from the fields of law enforcement, medicine, substance abuse and treatment, and interested community members attended the summit, held at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center in Cherokee, N.C. Speakers from federal and local law enforcement agencies, medical experts and representatives of community organizations presented on a broad range of topics including: the alarming rise in heroin and opioid addiction; prevention efforts and available treatment options; heroin trafficking trends within the boundaries of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and surrounding areas; and tribal, state, local and federal law enforcement efforts to stem the flow of opiates in the area.
U.S. Attorney Rose thanked the DEA, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Indian Police Department for co-sponsoring the event and emphasized the importance of the conference stating that, “Today’s summit is part of our ongoing effort to bring attention to heroin addiction and opioid drug abuse and to continue to build upon our collaborative efforts with law enforcement, the healthcare field and our community partners to confront this epidemic and address the problem in real and meaningful ways.”