Virginia has not been immune to the opioid epidemic gripping our nation. Virginia has been one of the states that has been hit hardest throughout the several waves of the opioid epidemic. West Virginia was hit the hardest over the 5 year period between 2013-2017.
In 2018, an average of three people died each day due to an opioid overdose. Since 2012, the number of opioid overdose deaths in Virginia has steadily increased. In 2012, the number of deaths was 572. In 2019, the number of deaths was 1,289. And the true number of opioid overdose deaths is likely even higher as these tend to be underreported.
Fentanyl: The Most Dangerous lllegal Drug in America
Fentanyl-related deaths are becoming increasingly common in Virginia. In 2019, only 109 opioid overdose deaths were the results of solely heroin. However, 959 deaths involved fentanyl, or fentanyl mixed with heroin. Fentanyl is a fatal ingredient sometimes found mixed into heroin sold on the street. Many have linked its entrance into the supply chain to the rapid increase in overdose deaths across the nation.
Fentanyl is highly lethal because of a combination of factors which makes overdosing on it significantly likelier. While having been known for several decades, fentanyl came into the public consciousness through a series of overdoses occurring in Ohio. Surely enough, as fentanyl was making its way through Ohio the overdose deaths also increased throughout the state leading to record highs each day.
Substance use disorders involving opiates for many have begun through the once liberal prescription of these medications and the general availability of pain medications on the street. Once these become scarce, the person suffering from the addiction is forced to turn to even more dangerous alternatives such as heroin and then inevitably fentanyl. Fentanyl is both highly addicting and potent, but it is unfortunately also incredibly available. This accessibility due to large scale production that occurs overseas in professional labs is a major contributing reason to the second and third wave of opoid related deaths and addiction in the US. As fentanyl ravages the population of a location, so too does heroin use and a subsequent rise in HIV occur.
Opioid addiction can be and often is highly fatal, it is important that quality treatment is available for those who are suffering from opioid addiction. Like other substance use disorders, those with opioid use disorder are at a high risk of relapse – and at a high for overdose and fatality.
Virginia Drug Rehab
Through a combination of efforts, the crisis is no longer at an all-time high as it was just a few years ago. Prescriptions for opioids are down significantly and there is much more treatment options available for those suffering from addiction.
At Encore Outpatient Services, we provide quality treatment for those suffering from substance use disorder, including those suffering from opioid use disorder. Our combination of medication-assisted treatment, and intensive trauma-informed group and individual psychotherapy help our patients learn to live a healthy, happy, and sober life.