HICKORY, N.C. -- A new report from Castlight Health found North Carolina has been one of the hardest hit states in the nation during the opioid abuse crisis.
Four cities in the state were listed as among the top 25 highest opioid abuse rates; Wilmington was number one while Hickory was number five.
Catawba County Sheriff's Office Captain Jason Reid leads the department's drug enforcement task force. He believes the Hickory area is no different from other places when it comes to opioid abuse.
He said it's a major problem, but added the intense efforts of law enforcement to crack down on opioid drug dealers gave a distorted perception.
"[To] make it look as if Catawba County is more overwhelmed with controlled substances,"Capt. Reid said. "We're not going to get caught up with statistics. We're going to go out and enforce the laws that need to be enforced."
In addition to arresting opioid dealers, the Sheriff's Office launched a new opioid addiction program inside its jail where inmates get clean through an eight week program incorporating elements of the 12-Step Plan.
Since the program was implemented a year ago, it's seen a recidivism rate of about 25 percent, well below average.
Gastonia resident Elizabeth Martin said her son has an opioid addiction, and she believed the lack of substance abuse and mental health treatment services fueled the crisis in North Carolina.
"Just thinking back on how it went for us, I think maybe there aren't enough services even though that seems to be changing," Martin said.
The full report can be found here.