RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) --Supporters of legislation designed to address North Carolina's opioid abuse crisis say more restrictions on prescriptions and more spending on treatment will help reduce the number of families torn apart and devastated by addiction.
"We're the ones who sees it first," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said. "Now that we have some support from legislatures, doctors, and pharmacists, I think we will see a big difference."
The proposal unveiled Thursday by Republican lawmakers and Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein would place more mandates upon medical providers before prescribing anti-pain drugs like OxyContin or morphine. These drugs come with a high risk of addiction and can be a gateway to heroin use.
Among the crowd Thursday was 20-year-old Greenville resident Ethan Buck. Buck said he began his opioid addiction at just 12-years-old.
"I'm here today because I think that we can make a difference especially in the lives of young people and to be able to prevent what I went through," he said.
Nearly 250 heroin-related deaths were reported in North Carolina in 2014. The measure would set aside $20 million over two years for more community-based addiction treatment and recovery services.
"Every day, four North Carolina's die from a medication or drug overdose," said Representative Greg Murphy who is one of the sponsors of the STOP Act. He is also a board certified physician. "I prescribe these medications daily and I see the problem I see the problem first hand."
Murphy said that though there will be a small annual fee for physicians, he said some in the medical community are in support of the act.
"This is something as physicians and health care providers we reach outside of ourselves and say this is an important societal issue," Murphy said.
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