The opioids crisis is the biggest challenge facing Buncombe County. White or back, rich or poor, every demographic group is being impacted by the disease of opioid addiction.

I say disease because I believe we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. We cannot repeat the mistakes that were, are still are, being made from the “War on Drugs.”

People suffering from a disease need treatment and help.

I applaud the Buncombe County Commissioners for suing pharmaceutical companies who are responsible for accelerating this crisis by dumping millions of powerful pain pills into our community.

I’m proud to have been the first APD officer on the Drug Treatment Court. So again, let me first say we cannot arrest our way out of this problem.

Treatment options must be an alternative to incarceration for non-violent individuals. Also we must work to educate our community about how addictive and dangerous pain pills are.

There are no easy answers to this crisis. It will take a community response to begin to tackle this and it will take years. We cannot pretend that issues of addiction and disease can be solved overnight.

Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein are committed to tackling this epidemic, so we also have programs and resources from the state at our disposal and I will work closely with them here in Buncombe County.