County Opioid Response
The Opioid Crisis
Every year in the United States, more than 100,000 people died from a drug overdose. The opioid epidemic started in the 1990's with the over-prescribing of opioid medications. The Substance Use Steering Committee, established in fall 2017 to address the heroin and opioid crisis in Chesterfield County, involves inter-departmental collaboration and partnership with organizations such as the Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE) Coalition.
The epidemic has moved away from prescription opioids and shifted to heroin and fentanyl. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is the now main driver of the opioid overdose crisis.
Substance Use Prevention
Substance use disorder is preventable. Part of preventing a substance use disorder is knowing your personal risk factors for addiction. There are many factors that make up risk - early first use of drugs, parental addiction, trauma exposure, and drug availability are some examples. There are also factors that can help avoid a substance use disorder called protective factors. These are things like strong family or community ties, access to physical and mental healthcare, and strong community resources, like community centers.
Overdose deaths have been on the rise. Opioids are a major factor, but we also know that many people use more than one drug at a time. This is called poly-substance use and is another major factor in the increase in overdoses.
Overdose prevention involves preventing drug use, providing treatment to those who want it, offering harm reduction, and providing recovery support. In Chesterfield County, we offer training on how to use Narcan (naloxone) a medication that can save a life during an opioid overdose. This life-saving medication is available for free.
Stigma and Substance Use
Addiction (substance use disorder) can happen to anyone. It is not a moral failing, but instead a chronic brain disorder. Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is treatable and people can and do recover.
One barrier to accessing treatment is stigma. People with a substance use disorder are often viewed poorly and treated badly the people and systems the interact with. We know this has devastating impacts and can lead to people not receiving the care they need.
We can help reduce stigma by talking about substance use disorder in our families and communities and by using person first language. Research tells us that the words we choose when talking about substance use or mental health matter. When we use first person language we can break down stigma.
Substance Use Treatment
Recovery from substance use disorder is possible. People now have a variety of treatment options to help them recover from substance use disorder.
Chesterfield County Opioid Response Services
Chesterfield County offers a variety of services to help combat the opioid epidemic:
- Chesterfield County Public Schools
- Community Corrections Programs
- Fire and EMS
- Mental Health Support Services
- Sheriff's Office