Forum Will Address Youth Painkiller, Heroin Issue

Drugs/Courtesy of UPCParents need to be aware that painkiller abuse and heroin use have reached “epidemic levels across the nation,” says the United Prevention Coalition (UPC) of Fairfax County.

Fairfax County is not immune. County stats show that from 2011-14, there was a 22-percent increase in the number of county residents needing services who reported having used heroin, non-prescription methadone, and/or other opiates.

From 2013 to 2014, in Fairfax County, the number of deaths from heroin overdose doubled. The county is also seeing “heroin use trending younger.”

“Fairfax County, like other communities across the commonwealth and nation, has a major public health crisis on our hands with painkiller and heroin abuse,” said UPC President Lisa Adler. “Heroin-related deaths increased 164 percent between 2011 and 2013 in our county alone. We need all citizens to join us in preventing more tragedy that has touched our youth and young adults and countless families.”

The UPC will host a forum on April 13 called “Painkillers & Heroin: Our Community Problem.” Featured speakers include Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services William A. Hazel Jr., M.D., Fairfax County community leaders, local experts and parents.

The forum is from 7 to 9 p.m. at the FCPS Gatehouse Administration Center, First Floor Café,  8115 Gatehouse Road, Falls Church, VA 22042. The event is free, but registration is requested at www.unifiedpreventioncoalition.org.

Hazel, a physician, serves as the co-chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse and will he the event’s keynote speaker.

Panelists include Kathy Briggs, who will share the story of her 21-year-old son’s death; Jesse Ellis, Fairfax County NCS prevention manager; Sgt. Jim Cox, Fairfax County Police Department narcotics officer; Maria Hadjiyane, Inova Behavioral Health Adult Ambulatory Care, director; and Dr. Husam Alathari, Inova CATS (Comprehensive Addiction Treatment Services) Program medical director; and a local college student in recovery. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Among those available to questions: Don Flattery, a member of the Governor’s Task Force; Paul Cleveland, FCPD Commander of Organized Crime and Narcotics; representatives from the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board; and other community leaders working on the Fairfax County opioid addiction prevention plan. Also participating will be Ginny Atwood of the Chris Atwood Foundation, which was formed in memory of her brother who battled addiction for six years.

For more information, visit www.unifiedpreventioncoalition.org.

Photo illustration courtesy of UPC

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