Area opioid use below average

Published 10:14 am Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The rates of opioid addiction and overdoses across the Heart of Virginia is lower than the state average, according to Crossroads Community Services Board Executive Director Dr. Susan Baker.

Baker cited prescription opioids — such as morphine and fentanyl — kill far more people than heroin.

“Across the state of Virginia, there are pockets of opioid abuse that have higher overdose and mortality rates than others — far Southwest Virginia being a particularly highly-impacted area,” Baker said.

She said Crossroads has provided substance use and addiction services for many years.

“These include voluntary group therapy, individual therapy and case management services for adults and

adolescents and court-ordered treatment for people involved with the legal system,” Baker said.

According to Baker, substance abuse is seldom a stand-alone issue with more than 80 percent of the clients Crossroads serves having some type of co-occurring mental health disorder.

“One of the interventions in recent years for opioid overdose — in particular heroin — has been the use of an inhalant version of naloxone, sometimes called Narcan,” Baker said. “This drug can be obtained by family members, first responders, even caring next door neighbors to reverse an opioid overdose.”

Training in the use of naloxone is available and training arrangements can be made through Crossroads.

According to Baker, the Virginia General Assembly made new funding available this year for substance use services.

“While this money will not substantially change the services offered by Crossroads, additional resources for inpatient detox and residential treatment have become available across the state,” Baker said.

She said additional funds have also been awarded on three levels of need to community service boards across the state.

“Crossroads is receiving a grant for $30,000 for coalition building in our seven counties through our prevention services,” Baker said. “This money is intended to bring agencies, localities, businesses and service providers together to build community resources for addressing this very real problem.”

In November, State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine declared the Virginia opioid addiction crisis a public health emergency.

In a press release announcing the declaration from the office of Gov. Terry McAuliffe, it cited in 2014 more people died from opioid overdoses than from fatal car accidents.

According to the Crossroads website, the organization was established in 1973 as a cooperative venture among the counties of Amelia, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward.

The website cited the focus of the Crossroads Community Services Board is to prevent and treat the occurrence of mental illness, intellectual disabilities, substance use and co-occurring disorders and to enhance the functioning of individuals and families who experience these conditions.