Alleghany County man tours Virginia with governor, addresses opioid crisis with medical students

Combating the opioid crisis in the classroom.

Gov. Ralph Northam has kicked off a tour of Virginia medical schools, talking to future doctors about painkiller prescriptions.

He's using an Alleghany County man's story to illustrate how addicts often start out as patients.

It's been a big week for Ryan Hall.

He proposed to his girlfriend and was baptized in a local creek, all on top of marking his one-year sobriety anniversary with a backyard celebration.

He said it's a time of personal blessings, but he's also focusing beyond himself, educating the next generation of doctors with his story of struggle.

Just days before the anniversary celebration, this recovering heroin addict sat in front of UVA medical students beside Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, putting a face to what many of them have only heard about.

“It's really a true honor to be able to do something like this,” said Hall.

It was an honor, especially since the governor himself asked Hall to take part.

It was Hall’s father, Alleghany County Sheriff Kevin Hall, who got the first phone call.

“He said, 'Sheriff Kevin Hall, this is Gov. Ralph Northam.' I said, 'Yes, sir. How are you doing?' He said, 'I have something I'd like for you and your son to help me out with.'”

The sheriff and Hall sat down with 10 News last year to share their story of a father whose own investigators arrested his son on drug related charges. 

While the outcome was prison the addiction began for Hall as a patient after breaking a leg during a football game.

In preparation for this tour of medical schools addressing the opioid crisis, Northam remembered Ryan’s story.

“I heard his story and it really clicked with me that this started. His story started with doctors prescribing narcotics, and obviously he was in pain and needed pain control, but I have heard that story over and over and over again,” Northam said.      

In all, the governor and Hall will speak at four different medical schools. After UVA, they'll head to Eastern Virginia Medical School, Virginia Commonwealth University and Liberty University.

The goal of speaking to future doctors is to stop the opioid abuse before it starts.

“It's really not my passion to go speak to med students. I really like going and speaking to the youth and trying to keep them from making the same mistakes that I did, but when the governor calls you've got to go,” Hall said.

“I could stand up there and say let me tell you about this story and this patient that I took care of, but there is nothing more powerful for people that are in training and learning to listen to someone like Ryan tell his story. I can promise you after listening to him and watching that video they will remember that as long as they live and that's the intent of doing that,” Northam said.

Sitting in the front with tears streaming down his face is a proud father watching his son mark another milestone on the road to recovery.

“It's pretty amazing. I've known that he's back to the person he was when he was growing up, fun loving and smart, and a good person to be around and seeing him recover back to that is amazing for the family,” Kevin Hall said.

About the Author: