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Substance Abuse

Substance Use: Advance health and resilience by advocating for prevention, treatment, risk mitigation, and recovery for people affected by substance use disorders.

Emergency department visits for unintentional medication or drug overdoses

Current Value




Line Bar Comparison

Story Behind the Indicator

NOTE: 2023 data is provisional due to continued updates.  

The "Story Behind the Curve" helps us understand why the data on is the way that it is in our community. When we understand the root causes of our community problems, we have a better chance of finding the right solutions, together.

What's Helping? These are the positive forces at work in our community and beyond that influence this issue in our community. 

  • All law enforcement agencies carry Naloxone, a reversal medication for opioid overdoses. This project is overseen by Haywood County EMS. Many lay citizens have also been trained to use this medication.    
  • Mountain Area Health Education Center provides trainings on topics such as Medication-Assisted Treatment, Substance Use Disorder, and Stimulant Use Disorder.    
  • The Community Linkages to Care (CLC) grant- this program aims to connect Haywood County residents to treatment and support for substance use disorder. Support includes risk mitigation and linkage to housing, food, and jobs.
  • 211: It's a free, easy-to-remember phone number connecting callers with resources in their communities.

What's Hurting? These are the negative forces at work in our community and beyond that influence this issue in our community.

  • Fentanyl is often found in Heroin and increases the likelihood of an overdose.
  • Local data about youth substance use is lacking, which hinders the community's ability to apply for federal funding.  
  • Stigma exists surrounding drug use and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), such as Suboxone.  
  • Many residents lack adequate housing, living-wage employment, and Medicaid access, making it difficult to achieve and sustain recovery from substance use and mental health disorders.     
  • In 2021, 15.8%, or 9,849 Haywood County residents were prescribed opioids (NC Opioid Dashboard, 2021).    

Partners With A Role To Play

Partners With a Role in Helping Our Community Do Better on This Issue:


Agency Person Role
Haywood County Health and Human Services Megan Hauser, Darion Vallerga, Jeanine Harris Lead
Haywood Connect Lynn Carlson Support
Haywood Regional Medical Center Lindsey Solomon Collaborate
Haywood County Sheriff’s Office Christina Esmay Support
Haywood County Emergency Services Travis Donaldson Support
Vaya Health Shelly Foreman Collaborate
Mountain Projects, Inc. Libby Ray Collaborate


Tobin Lee Collaborate
Meridian Behavioral Health Services Courtney Mayse Collaborate
Region A Partnership for Children Jody Miller Support
Vecinos, Inc. Yolanda Pinzon Uribe Support
Great by Eight Debbie Ray Support
Haywood County Cooperative Extension Julie Sawyer Support
Haywood County Public Library Jennifer Stuart Support
Blue Ridge Community Health Services Florence Willis Collaborate
National Alliance on Mental Illness/Vaya Health Mary Ann Widenhouse Collaborate

What Works to Do Better

The following actions have been identified by our Substance Use Prevention Alliance and community members as ideas for what can work for our community to make a difference on unintentional medication and drug overdose.

(A) Actions and Approaches Identified by Our Partners These are actions and approaches that our partners think can make a difference on unintentional medication and drug overdose.  

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences/Trauma- developing a Community Resilience Plan  
  • Conduct community education about overdose prevention and reversal.  
  • Provide risk mitigation services, including naloxone and post-overdose response.  
  • Coordinate presentations by first responders and risk mitigation staff for the Substance Use Prevention Alliance.  Presentations will include post-overdose response protocol and information about risk mitigation interventions.  

(B) What is Currently Working in Our Community These are actions and approaches that are currently in place in our community to make a difference on unintentional medication or other drug overdose.

  • Education about safer prescribing practices and naloxone administration  
  • Community Linkages to Care (CLC): this program aims to connect Haywood County residents to treatment and support for substance use disorder. The goal is to reduce overdose and deaths in Haywood County. The program focuses on people who are at risk for substance use disorder.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment- MAT is an evidence-based method for treating Substance Use Disorders.  Haywood County has several agencies that provide MAT.  Clinics also exist in neighboring counties.  

(C) Evidence-Based Strategies These are actions and approaches that have been shown to make a difference on unintentional medication or other drug overdose.

Name of Strategy Reviewed

Level of Intervention 

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Individual, Interpersonal, Community, Organizational

Decreasing stigma Community, Organizational
Trauma-Informed System of Care

Community, Organizational, Societal


What Community Members Most Affected by Unintentional Medication and Drug Overdose Say These are the actions and approaches recommended by members of our community who are most affected by unintentional medication and drug overdose.  

  • Implement the Pride survey to obtain youth substance use data.  
  • Hold community listening sessions to determine barriers receiving substance use treatment.  
  • Offer community education about overdose signs and symptoms, as well as how to reverse an overdose.   

Process for Selecting Priority Strategies

Haywood County used a process planning tool referred to as the "Getting to Strategies: Process Plan" designed to move from health priorities to Community Health Improvement Plan strategies. This tool assisted in facilitation when discussing priorites and strategies with work groups. Seven questions were presented to identify: Our ideal vision of Haywood County; What in our community would require change to accomplish our vision; What are the most important measures to reflect positive change; Who plays a role in creating change; What past and current strategies work to make positive change; and What we propose to do this Community Health Improvment Plan cycle (questions below). Once all of our work groups, partners, and community members in attendance agreed on proposed strategies (keeping in mind feasibility, sustainability, level of impact in regard to current resources and capacity) the group voted for their top three substance use and mental health strategies.

  • Questions:
    • What are the quality-of-life conditions we want for the people who live in our community?
    • How can we measure these conditions?
    • What would these conditions look like if we could see them?
    • How are we doing on the most important of these measures?
    • Who are the partners who have a role to play in doing better?
    • What works to do better?
    • What do we propose to do?

Data Holes

We are keeping an eye on medication and other drug overdoses as a way of telling how we are doing as a community in addressing substance use.  We also strive to build a community where we ''advance health and resilience by advocating for prevention, treatment, harm reduction and recovery.'' We have identified other data that is not currently available, but that we would like to develop to help us monitor progress on this result:

  • Youth tobacco use
  • Youth vape use
  • Youth alcohol use
  • Youth illicit drug use

These data points can be collected from youth by conducting the Pride survey in local schools.  Pride collects data such as perceptions surrounding drug use, past 30-day drug use and the locations where drugs are used. Additionally, Haywood County created a voluntary youth survey designed to gain feedback from individuals under 18 about their media communication preferences around vaping.  

Clear Impact Suite is an easy-to-use, web-based software platform that helps your staff collaborate with external stakeholders and community partners by utilizing the combination of data collection, performance reporting, and program planning.

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