Heroin Overdoses and Deaths an Ongoing Emergency in Virginia
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Heroin Overdoses and Deaths an Ongoing Emergency in Virginia

Most Americans are aware of the ongoing problems in the country related to prescription opioid abuse, opioid addiction and overdose deaths. While prescription opioids represent the majority of accidental drug overdose deaths in the country, heroin is a close second.

Many people who develop an addiction to prescription opioid painkillers easily transition to heroin use. Virginia has seen some of the worst effects of the ongoing heroin problem in the country, particularly when it comes to heroin overdoses and deaths.

Prescription drug abuse in Virginia has been a problem for years, but reports indicate that heroin is overtaking prescription pills as the leading cause of overdose deaths in the state. Surveys of new heroin users indicate that 4 out of 5 users report having used prescription opioid painkillers before moving on to heroin.

Virginia’s Problems with Heroin

2016 saw staggering numbers of overdose deaths in Virginia, ranging from three to nine deaths per 100,000 residents in some areas to as many as 33 to 52 deaths per 100,000 residents in others.

More than 75 percent of all overdose deaths in Virginia in 2016 occurred from opioid use, or 1,133 out of 1,420 deaths. This figure could increase, as the results of 60 cases are still pending. Since 2013, drug overdoses have been the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia.

Other stats worth noting:

  • Fairfax County had one the highest rates of overdose deaths in Virginia in 2016.
    • 80 of the 103 recorded overdose deaths happened due to opioids.
  • In Northern Virginia, opioid deaths increased dramatically in the past five years, from 180 in 2011 to 310 in 2016.
  • The highest per capita overdose death rate in 2016 was in Fredericksburg, with 11 deaths among it’s population of less than 30,000.

Heroin Overdoses and Deaths on the Rise

While prescription opioids have represented the lion’s share of overdose deaths throughout the country for several years, a few states, including Virginia, have marked an increase in heroin- and fentanyl-related deaths. In 2012, prescription opioids were responsible for 435 out of 572 opioid overdose deaths in Virginia, and “only” 185 happened due to heroin or fentanyl use.

In 2016, that figure increased dramatically. Out of the 1,133 opioid-related overdose deaths in “Old Dominion” in 2016, 810 occurred due to fentanyl and/or heroin use.

The remaining 469 were due to prescription opioid deaths, indicating a trend away from prescription opioids and toward illegal opioids like heroin and fentanyl.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that can be as much as 100 times as powerful as heroin. It continues to cause serious problems in Virginia, and the state reports the number of fentanyl-related deaths tripled between 2012 and 2016.

Recent Heroin Bust in Virginia

In March 2017, law enforcement officials announced the end of “Operation Purple Rain.” A drug bust spanning Maryland and Virginia led to the arrests of 11 individuals running a massive heroin trade ring. The 11 individuals from Fairfax County, Alexandria, Prince George’s County and Prince William County worked together to distribute more than 1 kilogram of heroin, a potential street value of up to $1 million.

In total, the bust led to the seizure of 400 grams of heroin, 330 grams of cocaine, 7 pounds of marijuana, 19 grams of PCP, 10 firearms, and about $18,000 in cash. While the seized drugs have not yet been linked to any of the recorded overdose deaths in 2016, law enforcement hopes that increased pressure on drug dealers will make heroin harder to buy and calm the growing number of overdose cases in the state.

Consider Heroin Rehab Outside of Virginia

In VA, help for heroin addiction can be hard to find. Many people struggling with heroin addiction also find that staying in their local area is difficult. The familiar places and faces can make it difficult to separate oneself from an addiction and start the recovery process.

Reflections Recovery Center Offers Specialized Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Anyone searching for help for heroin addiction in Virginia needs to know their options for treatment out of state, as well. Heroin rehab outside of Virginia may offer some individuals a better chance at recovery than in-state options. Some people struggling with heroin addiction may require specialized treatment, or may simply need to recover far away from stressors and triggers that enable their addictions.

Located in Prescott, Arizona, Reflections Recovery Center is an award-winning substance abuse treatment facility. Specialized heroin treatment in Virginia may be difficult to find, and we are certain our unique program can offer the best possible recovery experience.

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction in Virginia, avoid becoming one of these tragic statistics and start toward recovery with the comprehensive and award-winning treatment offered at Reflections Recovery Center.

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