Roanoke schools continue discussions on opioid addiction

By Alison Wickline - Reporter

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. - Roanoke County Public Schools hosted the second in its series of meetings to discuss the drug epidemic in the Roanoke Valley at Glenvar High School on Thursday night.

With the help of the Roanoke Opioid/Heroin Task Force and The Prevention Council, the school board is holding these meetings to discuss the reality of opioid and heroin addiction in the Roanoke Valley.

"The disease of addiction is something that is a brain disease, not a moral failure," said Nancy Hans, executive director of The Prevention Council of Roanoke Valley. "We need families to take it from under the table, and put it on top of the table, and really talk about what that disease looks like." 

During the meeting, a law enforcement officer presented staggering new statistics as dozens of parents and students listened intently.

The average age of a heroin user is 21 years old and getting younger. Since the beginning of 2017, the Roanoke Valley has seen 310 drug overdoses. 

"There are students, very young students, middle school students, high school students that are becoming addicted," said Glenvar teacher Lynn Richmond.

According to law enforcement, three of the most abused drugs by high school students are Vicodin, Adderall and Oxycontin, which is why prevention efforts are focused so heavily on prescription drugs.

"Now that we know that the connection is from opioids, pills, pain medications directly to heroin, we need to get in front of this," Hans said.

Organizers are hoping the meetings make it easier to discuss the warning signs and risks of addiction.

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