Effects of Opioids on Spotsylvania County Resources
The Free Lance Star recently highlighted some of the effects of opioids in our region. Here are some of the stats specific to Spotsylvania.
Virginia Department of Health Fatal Drug Overdose Trends from 2007 to 2017 can be found here.
Since 2015, Spotsylvania County has had 188 heroin overdoses, with 40 fatalities. Since 2016, Spotsylvania County has had 33 pill overdoses, with 3 fatalities. The use of the naloxone and first responder training has resulted in 22 naloxone doses being administered to 17 victims, all having been awoke from the overdose between October 2016 to June 2017.
Spotsylvania Department of Social Services reported that between July 2016- July 2017 they responded to 1,100 calls. 201 calls were related to substance abuse and of those 87 involved opioids or heroin. Since they began tracking the data in 2012, substance abuse by a care giver accounted for 59 of the 114 children in foster care as either the primary or secondary factor.
Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management (FREM) responds to 18 substance abuse calls per month, with 107 hours dedicated to these calls.
As of July 2017, the Spotsylvania Sheriff's Office in the 2017 calendar year responded to a total of 83 Heroin overdoses with 7 fatalities. This has already surpassed the 2016 calendar year which totaled 81 overdosed for the year.
A few recent actions taken:
- Detectives are now sent to all drug incidents. Prior to 2017, Deputies handled most drug related issues.
- Two grants for prescription drug and heroin abuse have been awarded totaling 11,000 dollars.
- Spotsylvania Commonwealth's Attorney serves on newly created Rappahannock Healthy Community Advisory Council, which oversees three teams of community leaders who are addressing the issues in three areas: Prevention, Treatment, and Reduction of Harm.
I believe that awareness is key as a starting point to addressing the opioid epidemic. Our local non-profits are working towards this goal by holding community meetings and town halls, similar to the one that happening in October that is advertised below. Local government needs to reinforce and publicly support their efforts and get a firmer grasp on the real costs of the epidemic.
The next step is to begin thinking of the best ways to provide treatment opportunities for those affected. Some may be hesitant to take this step because of the idea of expending additional resources. However, like anything there are costs to no action and the statistics seem to indicate that we are already paying these additional costs with the increased demand on Social Services, FREM, and Sheriff resources in part to deal with this rising epidemic.
My solutions would be to work with local non-profits to see if providing them increases in county funding would be a better option than to create a larger government footprint. If the non profits are ill-equipped to expand their services, then we should strongly consider partnering with neighboring localities to share the burden. If we pool our resources in a regional approach, similar to the Rappahannock Regional Jail or Central Rappahannock Regional Library, then we would get the most out of our resources. I would in general be opposed to creating a Spotsy-centric solution as this would encourage other localities to send individuals with substance abuses issues to our county to avoid the costs.
We need to remain vigilant on this issue and its effects on our limited resources. We need to take action before the secondary costs become too high and the negative consequences of higher crime engulf our community and more lives are negatively effected.
Click here for information provided to the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors in July.
Click here to review the full Free Lance Star article on Opioids.