Founder of Charlotte treatment center speaks on overdose milestone
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Ward Blanchard, founder and CEO of The Blanchard Institute in Pineville, said he was not surprised to learn that more than 100,000 people in America had died from an overdose in a year’s time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday that it had estimated that 100,300 Americans died of drug overdoses from May 2020 to April 2021.
The Blanchard Institute is an outpatient treatment facility devoted to helping people who struggle with substance abuse and mental health. Ward Blanchard said he and his colleagues have recently noticed more patients coming to the facility for help overcoming opioid addiction.
“We are seeing a very sharp increase in those individuals coming in with opioid use disorder and sadly even one step more is that, of those, the overwhelming majority of them are coming in and testing positive for fentanyl,” explained Blanchard in an interview with WBTV Wednesday evening.
The institute founder called fentanyl a gamechanger for the opioid epidemic because of how potent and deadly the drug can be. He said he just spoke to a mother who had lost her son to a fentanyl overdose Tuesday.
“No matter how long you’re in this field and how many clients or families you talk to like that, that conversation never gets easier,” said Blanchard.
Blanchard said he too battled opioid addiction in his younger years. He said he got addicted to medication after being diagnosed with a chronic pain disease.
“I think that it was around when I was 21, 22 and it lasted probably about four good years and it was four very dark and destructive years,” explained Blanchard.
He explained that he was able to get help and overcome addiction. He said he has now devoted his life to help other people who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse. The institute founder said he wants people who may be struggling to know that it’s okay to reach out for help.
“Just knowing that there is a handout there willing to help you if you reach out for it is an important message that people understand,” said Blanchard.
He said he thinks it will take a collaborative effort from healthcare systems, law enforcement agencies and school systems if American communities truly hope to turn the tide of the opioid epidemic.
To learn more about the Blanchard Institute, visit the organization’s website here.
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