ICYMI: A Band-Aid Can’t Fix SWVA’s Problem with Opioid Addiction

In case you missed it, my good friend and colleague Delegate Todd Pillion of Abingdon penned an op-ed in the Bristol Herald Courier that breaks down the ongoing opioid epidemic in Virginia. Click here to read Delegate Pillion’s op-ed.

Delegate Pillion hits the nail right on its head. We cannot put a Band-Aid on the growing opioid epidemic. We must consider a multi-faceted approach to addressing this chronic issue.

In case you haven’t heard of the growing opioid epidemic, here’s a few things you should know:

  • The United States accounts for approximately 5% of the world’s population but consumes around 80% of the world’s opioid supply.
  • The CDC reports that around 20% of visits to physicians result in a opioid prescription.
  • In 2014, more Virginians died from opioid and heroin overdoses than died in car crashes. 547 Virginians were killed from opioid overdoses alone in 2014.(http://www.hardesthitva.com/)

As Delegate Pillion notes in his op-ed, “we cannot arrest our way of of this” crisis. We must seek a long-term, permanent solution. During the 2015 General Assembly session, I voted in favor of HB 1458 and HB 1833 that authorized pharmacists and law enforcement officers to carry naloxone. Naloxone, known commonly by its brand name Narcan, can reverse overdoses caused by opioids and heroin. Within six months, police in Virginia Beach were able to halt 30 heroin overdoses with naloxone due to policies put in place by HB 1458 and HB 1833.

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you’ve likely heard about my recent tour of the Heroin Addiction Recovery Program (HARP) at the Chesterfield County Jail. If you haven’t, you can click here to read about my tour. Just as Delegate Pillion is seeking an end to the opioid epidemic, I am seeking an end to the related and just as deadly epidemic – heroin addiction.

During the upcoming General Assembly session, I will work with Delegate Pillion and other colleagues to build upon HB 1458 and HB 1833 to find a results-oriented solution that will protect our children and families from the growing dangers of opioids and heroin.