As the opioid epidemic continues throughout the country,, Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-VA), a member of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force in the House, hosted two roundtables Aug. 8 bringing local, state and federal stakeholders together to discuss the heroin and opioid epidemic in Loudoun County and the Shenandoah Valley.
Comstock said more than 1,400 Virginias died from drug overdoses in 2016, again outpacing the number of Virginians killed in auto accidents.
“We know stronger and deadlier drugs are hitting our streets with fentanyl and carfentanyl cut into heroin as well as into marijuana,” Comstock said in a release. “Last year we passed landmark legislation to address this and we continue to identify needs in our communities. Today’s roundtables were intended to see how our resources are being targeted and coordinated to educate, prevent, treat, and best address this epidemic.”
The local stakeholders and Office of National Drug Control Policy discussed education and prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts in the community and the importance of joining together in the fight and use the best practices in addressing the multifaceted challenges with substance abuse disorder and addiction.
“We need to demonstrate that recovery from substance use disorder is not only possible, but that we can have fun in recovery,” said Nick Yacoub, of Recovery Coaches Inc.
Earlier this year, Comstock led a bipartisan letter to the Trump Administration urging it to maintain strong ONDCP funding because of the resources they provide to many communities across the nation. She also said in a release that the FY17 spending bill provided robust funding for the HIDTA Program that includes Prince William, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Frederick Counties.
“Today demonstrated, and really reinforced, the importance of strong leadership in every role.” Lawrence “Chip” Muir, Acting Chief of Staff and General Counsel for the ONDCP, said in a release. “You saw it with Congresswoman Comstock pulling together two outstanding panels, listening and asking insightful questions, trying to find the gaps that need to be filled and where resources should go. And you saw it with the law enforcement, community leaders, medical leaders, faith leaders, and those in the recovery community all studying the issue and actively pursuing solutions to the public health issues at their doors. When you see everyone using their positions to lead with their strengths, you begin to believe the tide of this battle will soon turn in our favor. Strong leadership matters, and it was on full display today.”
Although heroin and opioid abuse has risen to epidemic proportions, Loudoun is beginning to make some headway.
“Loudoun County has seen a 14 percent decrease in heroin related fatalities in comparison to this same time last year,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman in a release. “I believe this is a reflection of our comprehensive, integrated and proactive approach that incorporates enforcement, education and prevention. After engaging in our panel discussion today with our federal, state and community partners, it became clear that our efforts must continue to further reduce this scourge impacting our communities and our nation. I am proud to be working closely with so many committed stakeholders who genuinely want to bring this debilitating issue to an end.”
The round tables featured muir; Chapman; Karl Colder, Special Agent In Charge, DEA; Leesburg Police Chief Gregory Brown; Captain Greg Kincaid, Virginia State Police; Phillip Erickson, Loudoun County Mental Health; Joseph Razzano, Loudoun County Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Development Services; Dr. Sameer Mehta, INOVA Mental Health; Nick Yacoub, Leader within the Recovery Community; and Ginny Lovett, Executive Director for the Chris Atwood Foundation.