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McAuliffe: Opioid addiction is now a Public Health Emergency

The commonwealth of Virginia has declared the state's opioid addiction crisis a Public Health Emergency.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe's office announced the declaration today, saying it “comes in response to the growing number of overdoses attributed to opioid use, and evidence that Carfentanil, a highly dangerous synthetic opioid used to sedate large animals such as elephants, has made its way its way into Virginia.”

“Too many families across Virginia and the nation are dealing with heartbreak and loss as a result of prescription opioid and heroin abuse epidemic,” McAuliffe (D) said in a statement. “We cannot stand by while these drugs harm our communities and our economy.”

By the end of 2016, opioid overdose deaths are expected to increase by 77 percent over five years ago, according to the governor's office. In 2014, more people died from opioid overdoses than care accidents.

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control has called the opioid crisis “the worst drug epidemic in history.” More than 47,000 people died from opioid abuse in 2014, an all-time high.

In response to the troubling trend, State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine has issued a standing order that allows all Virginians to obtain the drug Naloxone, which can be used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations. The standing order serves as a prescription written for the general public, rather than specifically for an individual, removing a barrier to access, Levine said.

In today's announcement, the governor's office highlighted five steps to combat the opioid epidemic:

1.) Know the signs of addiction and substance use: Signs of recent opioid use include pinpoint pupils, sleepiness, “nodding” and scratching. Common signs of addiction include constant money problems; arrests; track marks and infections from needle use; lying about drug use; irritability and, when drugs can’t be obtained, physical withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, dilated pupils, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.

2.) Talk to your loved ones: If you suspect that your friend or family member is struggling with addiction and substance use, talk with them. The state’s new website VaAware ( http://vaaware.com/treatment-recovery/ ) offers resources on how to best discuss addiction with someone you love.

3.) Properly dispose of medications: If you have unused, expired or unwanted medications and need a way to safely dispose of them, you can now get a drug disposal bag from your Local Health Department. The bags allow for you to safely deactivate and dispose of medications in the privacy of your own home. Additionally, you may return unwanted prescription drugs for destruction to one of the authorized pharmacies listed at www.dhp.virginia.gov/pharmacy/destructionsites.asp. Some local law enforcement agencies also collect and destroy unwanted drugs.

4.) Obtain Naloxone: If someone in your life is struggling with opioid addiction, visit your local pharmacist to obtain Naloxone and keep it on hand for possible overdose emergencies. Naloxone is a medication that can reverse an overdose that is caused by an opioid drug (i.e. prescription pain medication or heroin). When administered during an overdose, naloxone blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and restores breathing within two to eight minutes. Naloxone has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years and has only one function: to reverse the effects of opioids on the brain and respiratory system in order to prevent death. Family members and friends can access this medication by obtaining a prescription from their family doctor or by visiting a participating pharmacy that can dispense the drug using the standing order issued by Dr. Levine. More information on Naloxone can be found at http://www.getnaloxonenow.org.

5.) Learn more: DBHDS provides Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education (OONE) to professionals, stakeholders and others through their REVIVE! program. Learn more about REVIVE! at http://www.dbhds.virginia.gov/individuals-and-families/substance-abuse/revive.


If you choose to use heroin or prescription drugs for recreational you deserve the consequences. You can say it is a tragedy when one dies from a self inflicted overdose but I would beg to differ. Nanny states and the war on drugs is a failure just ask Obama and McAuliffe how many drug users they managed to free and put back into the voting booths. These government hacks are not the cure and will waste more money on dugs for druggies, this epidemic is their own making!

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