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Virginia’s Opioid Crisis: The Impact On Our State

May 18, 2021

In 2016, Virginia’s state health commissioner, along with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services, and the Department of Health Professions declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. Since then, a number of changes have been enacted in order to better accommodate the public and those in need. 

Measures the State Has Taken

– First, there is a standing order that has made naloxone, the opioid antagonist or “blocker” found in Suboxone, easily obtainable. It can be accessed via requesting it from any pharmacy in the state, getting a prescription from a doctor, or reaching out to local health departments and some Community Services Boards. 

– Virginia offers free training across the state on recognizing and responding to opioid overdose situations using naloxone. The main program, REVIVE!, can take as little as 10 minutes

– The state helps people overcome financial barriers, through actions like ensuring that Medicaid members can gain access to addiction treatment services, as well as expanding the total number of doctors and other health care providers who can assist with these services

– Virginia has provided millions of dollars in federal grant funds to communities for prevention, treatment, and recovery services – such as the State Opioid Response Grant, which has helped expand:

  • Collegiate recovery programs
  • Medication-assisted treatment options
  • Community Coalition partnerships
  • Treatment programs within the Department of Corrections as well as regional and local jails
  • Availability to prescription drug storage and disposal

Recovering from the Crisis

As is the case across the country, the opioid crisis in Virginia is real and claims the lives of hundreds of people every year – even more than from automobile accidents. Awareness and education play two key roles in helping those who need help, and ultimately will require the efforts of families, local communities, the state, and treatment centers like IHAT in order to minimize the damage done and loss of life.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by the opioid crisis and are looking to make a change, please contact IHAT today. Our comprehensive outpatient program makes it easy to continue on with everyday life, such as tending to work and family, while aiming to create the highest chance of a successful outcome. 

Doug Choate

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