Leaders discuss opioid epidemic's impact on Virginia

LEXINGTON, Va. – The opioids epidemic is making its way into local communities throughout the country, and state leaders are focusing on tackling the opioid crisis here in the commonwealth.

On Thursday, in Lexington, Sec. William Hazel Jr. spoke at the Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital with the Local Emergency Preparedness Committee. The committee consisted of hospital staff, first responders, and emergency agencies.

“There are many types of fentanyl and they are all similar, but the potency is huge,” said Hazel. “It is thousands of times more potent and even contact with it can kill.”

Hazel shared that the opioids that are sold by dealers in our area are so potent and come with long-term effects with no easy solution.

"Let’s face it, we have people who are addicted and only three things can happen,” said Hazel. “You get into recovery and that is a lifetime, they die, or they live with the harm that they cost themselves or others.”

One of the solutions  included the much-needed funding, but the purpose of the community is to help those facing opioid addiction. The chair of the Department for Emergency Medicine for Carillion Clinic, John Burton, says that in order to create a solution, leaders and various sectors must work together.

“Law enforcement for sure is part of the solution here, but it is not the only one,” said Burton. “It is a multi-problem approach and we all got to be partners in it.”

According to officials, 80 percent of this addiction comes from prescription drugs. Burton states that National Carillon data confirms that when someone is struggling with opioid addiction there is a 10 percent probability that they will be dead in the next year.