ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) - A community came together to talk about a disease that has taken dozens from the Roanoke Valley in the last year.
The first of five community meetings on the opioid addiction crisis was held Monday night at Hidden Valley High School.
Police, family members who have lost loved ones and other community members spoke about the addiction issue in this area, and across the country.
Those who spoke stressed that drug addiction is something that must be talked about.
These meetings are happening at all five Roanoke County high schools.
Police said more than 75 people died from overdosing in Roanoke city and county in the last half of 2016. The average age for first time heroin users is now 21. Two years ago, it was 23. In the northeast part of the country, many middle-schoolers are now testing positive for the drug.
Janine Underwood said she lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2015, and it is an issue that parents need to discuss.
"By people sharing their stories, my son's story, it's so important to share that with others because then they won't feel like they're alone," said Underwood.
Parents asked questions for about 30 minutes after the presentation. They focused on everything from drug testing in high school to including more drug prevention focus in health education classes.
The next meetings happen:
· Tuesday, Feb. 21 - Cave Spring High School
· Monday, Feb. 27 - Northside High School
· Tuesday, Feb. 28 - Glenvar High School
· Thursday, Mar. 2 - William Byrd High School
Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved