Combating heroin use in Fairfax County

Photo of heroin spoonThe Fairfax County Board has passed a proposal by Supervisor Pat Herrity to examine the growing use of heroin in the county. The board voted to direct the county staff to prepare a report documenting the extent of the problem and recommending next steps.

“Heroin is here, it is on our doorstep, it is in our communities, and it often goes unnoticed,” Herrity said. “This problem ranges through all demographics, it doesn’t have a ‘face,’ and for that reason often goes unnoticed until it is too late. We need to ensure we’re doing everything we can to raise awareness in our community and tackle this problem head on.”

Heroin use and overdoses are on the rise in Virginia. Overdoses doubled in Virginia between 2011 and 2013, and according to the Washington Post the problem is worse in Northern Virginia where overdoses saw a 163% rise in the same time period.

These numbers are artificially low because currently hospitals are not required to report overdoses to the police, and there is also a stigma attached to the problem so families who have lost loved ones are often hesitant to reveal the true cause of death, Herrity said.

Prescription pills, especially Oxycontin and pain medications, have been seen as the gateway, and when users can no longer get hold of or afford to get a hold of those pills they turn to the cheaper, easily findable, and deadlier heroin.

 

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.