LEXINGTON, Va. – Community leaders in Rockbridge County are sharing ways to address mental health and substance abuse among teenagers as part of the goal of the Rockbridge Area Prevention Coalition’s fifth annual Prevention Forum.
“We put on this event so people can come together and learn how they can help reduce substance use and promote mental health awareness in the community,” said RAPC Facilitator, Malachi Palmer.
One of the demonstrations during Tuesday’s forum was called “Hidden In Plain Sight,” where Rockbridge County Sheriff’s deputies showed ways kids hide things from their parents.
Guest speaker, Ben Westhoff, author of the book, Fentanyl Inc. spoke at the forum. He shared the dangers of the highly deadly synthetic opioid.
“Prevention is really key when it comes to trying to stop kids from ever starting these bad drugs in the first place,” said Westhoff.
In 2022, the Centers for Disease Control reports over 109,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses. 70% of those deaths were from fentanyl or other synthetic opioids.
“What I tell people is that fentanyl can be cut into any pill, any powder from the black market. So if you think you’re taking cocaine, meth, heroin, or prescription pills, it can actually have fentanyl in it and it can kill you,” said Westhoff.
The Rockbridge Area Prevention Coalition also hosts monthly REVIVE! training sessions, teaching people to use the overdose-reversing nasal spray, Naloxone.