Individuals in the Throes of Addiction Urged to Seek Treatment

Published Date: Sep 29, 2017

Eleven overdoses have been reported by the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force since September 20th, indicating the likeliness of heroin laced with fentanyl.  Four lives were lost in this latest spike in overdoses bringing the total number of overdose deaths this year to 33. Lab results, which may return in four to six months, will determine the narcotics used in the overdoses.

In addition to the number of overdose deaths this year there have been 145 reported first responder Narcan administrations. Lab results have shown the presence of fentanyl in other overdoses this year.

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition is calling on the public to help curve the use of heroin. If you have a friend or loved one who is actively using IV drugs, one way you can help to save their life is by reaching out for help. You are also encouraged to purchase Naloxone which is now available over the counter at some local pharmacies. Naloxone is used to reverse the effects of narcotic drugs.

The NSVSAC is asking the public to pay attention to the behaviors of individuals around them,
and if they notice any of the following general signs of substance use, to seek help.

  • Change in friends
  • Declining grades
  • Decrease in motivation, “No drive”
  • Increased school disciplinary action
  • Loss of interest in activities (Sports, music, hobbies)
  • Missed school or work
  • Selling/pawning, stealing, or missing valuables/cash
  • Frequent use of mints/gum/candy/chips to mask breath
  • Hiding substances (i.e. Cars, wallets, hat rims, shoes)
  • Hiding controlled substances in non-controlled prescription bottles that look similar
  • Avoidance of loved ones/secrecy/irrational excuses for absences
  • Overly sensitive or defensive/detached
  • Anxiety/depression/frequent mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Isolation (long periods in bathroom/shower, car or bedroom)
  • Changing sleep hours
  • Decline in physical self-care
  • Sudden onset or increased cigarette usage
  • Increase in speeding or other tickets or minor accident

Specific to IV Use (Heroin/Cocaine/Other):

  • Wearing long sleeve shirts during warm weather (To cover “track marks”)
  • Napping or falling asleep at strange times (heroin or opioids)
  • Long periods in the bathroom/shower

Thanks to a United Way Impact Grant the NSVSAC recently hired two Peer Recovery Specialists who are available to the public. Because of their lived experience, peer recovery specialists have expertise that professional training cannot replicate. With a powerful message of hope combined with the experience of success in their own recovery, peer recovery specialists serve as life coaches, extending the clinical reach of treatment and going directly into the lives of people who need them most.

“The disease of addiction is impacting lives and families across our community. We strongly urge anyone who is struggling with addiction to reach out for help and we want individuals in our community to feel safe in seeking treatment. We are fortunate to have a robust community of individuals in recovery who are willing to help others find freedom from addiction. We are encouraging utilization of these invaluable resources,” said Executive Director Lauren Cummings.

The NSVSAC is also partnering with Concern Hotline to encourage individuals to call for help. The number for Concern Hotline is 540-667-0145. For a comprehensive listing of addiction resources in the Northern Shenandoah Valley visit