Many North Carolina parents who have lost their children to drug overdoses are fighting to prevent other families from feeling their same pain.
Debbie Dalton holds a photo of her son Hunter who died from cocaine laced with fentanyl in 2016. He spent seven days in the hospital after his overdose hooked up to life support. Photo credit: Taylor KnopfDebbie Dalton was sitting at her kitchen table in Cornelius writing Christmas cards the week after Thanksgiving 2016 when she received a devastating phone call.
The caller ID said “Hunter,” the name of her then-23-year-old son who recently graduated college and moved to Raleigh to work at Citrix.
But it wasn’t Hunter calling. His roommate was on the other end and said that Hunter had overdosed.
He lived for seven days hooked up to life support machines inside the hospital. Hunter overdosed on cocaine laced with fentanyl and was brain dead.
“I could have held his hand forever, but he wouldn’t want that,” Dalton said.
So she decided to take action. She joined the many North Carolina parents suffering the loss of a child who are fighting to prevent more drug overdose deaths.
Attorney General Josh Stein, who’s prioritized the opioid issue, recently invited parents from across the state to his Raleigh office to share what they’ve been doing to combat overdose deaths in their communities.
Most of the efforts revolve around prevention education and helping people get substance abuse treatment services. The majority of the parents present belong to a recently formed lobbying group called ROAR to push for opioid legislation.
In June, Gov. Roy Cooper signed the HOPE Act, a law aimed at stopping the flow of prescription drugs into the illegal market. The HOPE Act comes with the promise of more money for addiction treatment and recovery services. It also gives law enforcement new tools to investigate drug crimes, including the ability to look at the Controlled Substances Reporting System, a state-managed prescription database. That provision proved to be controversial.