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Rep. Comstock, Sheriff Chapman lead roundtable discussion on opioid fight

Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R) sits with Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) and Lawrence ‘Chip’ Muir, general counsel and acting chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Times-Mirror/Chantalle Edmunds
Taking a full-thronged approach to combat drugs and addiction was a central theme at a roundtable discussion held at the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office Tuesday focusing on the statewide opioid crisis.

Representatives from a multitude of agencies and those whose lives are directly impacted by the crisis joined Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.-10th) and Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman (R) to share best practices and put forward new ideas and possible solutions.

Those gathered were part of Loudoun County's Heroin Operations Team (HOT) formed in 2015 to address the growing opioid epidemic with what Chapman described as an all angles government approach with law enforcement, education, public outreach and treatment.

Comstock said one of the purposes of the event was to see how resources are working on state, local and federal level.

She also spoke about bipartisan support for legislation to help addicts, like the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, passed by a bipartisan vote in May 2016.

Joining the discussion was Lawrence “Chip” Muir, general counsel and acting chief of staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

“In 2015, 33,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdose, over 800 were in Virginia,” Muir said.
He added he was “looking forward to taking back recommendations and find out what gaps we need to fill.”

Muir said President Donald Trump is committed to the fight against opioids and spoke about a commission appointed by the president to combat opioid addiction.

In Loudoun County, sheriff's deputies are equipped to carry the heroin antidote Naloxone.
Ginny Lovett of the Chris Atwood Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up to address the opioid crisis and stigma surrounding it, warned how addicts can easily fall through the cracks and not be offered help or the right resources.

Lovett's brother, Chris Atwood, died after a six-year battle with drugs. The month before his death he was taken to the hospital where his life was saved with Naloxone.

“He was released from hospital with no resources, no follow-up and was basically told don't do that again,” Lovett said. “If they had given him Naloxone to take home with him, then he would have had that.”

Lovett was the one who found her brother unconscious.

She went on to talk about how expensive the nasal spray version of Naloxone is and how the price has risen in recent years.

Former addict Nick Yacoub, who's been in recovery for the last nine years, talked about how he is getting the message out to young people that recovery is possible.

“We need to address the stigma,” Yacoub said. “We need to show people recovery is possible and they can learn to live without the use of drugs.”

Other speakers included Major Richard Fiano, who oversees the Criminal Investigations Unit at the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office. Fiano spoke of seeing a lot of prescription script fraud and warned many addicts were previously addicted to pain killers before becoming hooked on heroin.

“Some parents don't seem to see the urgency. They don't see the addiction process,” Fiano said.

Since March, at Inova Loudoun and other Inova hospitals in the region, the emergency department has dramatically reduced the number of opioids they prescribe. Instead they are offering patients experiencing pain non-narcotic options like Toradol.

Dr. Sameer Mehta from Inova Health spoke about the success of offering alternatives.

“There has been an 83 percent drop in Dilaudid use,” Mehta said, referring to a common opioid.

Philip Erickson, substance abuse program manager for Loudoun County Department of Mental Health, said community partnerships are key in the fight against drugs and addiction. Although he was optimistic, he acknowledged gaps in Loudoun County.

“We don't have a residential detox program,” he said. Instead the county is dependent on programs further afield like in Alexandria.

Leesburg Chief of Police Greg Brown said there had been a small drop in the number of fatal overdoses so far this year, referring only to cases worked by Leesburg police. There have been eight overdose-related deaths in the last six months. But Brown added there are three more cases sitting in toxicology labs.

Speaking after the formal event, Comstock told the Times-Mirror it was important to work toward prevention and diversion out of the jail system so more hospital beds aren't needed.


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Comments


If Rep. Comstock had taken time to talk with real constituents instead of campaign donors, she would not have dropped the ball on anti-gang funding and opioids. She is playing catch-up. These photo-ops cover her fumble.


This is all tragic and hitting all corners of the U.S. Loudoun unfortunately is no different and these efforts are just that, efforts.  What troubles me is what are we to get out of the article and this meeting?  It is again the same politicians going over what has already been gone over, and yet it seems this is just another meeting with each other at this point.  (oh and a photographer and local press..hmmm?)
What have been some results of what has been implemented? It seems the only ones who spoke on how things were going was Dr. Mehta and Chief Brown.  Dr. Mehta said there was an 83% decrease in prescription of Dilaudid (is that a result of PROP?), and Chief Brown said that there was a small drop of overdose fatalities, but added this disclaimer “there are three more cases sitting in toxicology labs”.  So does that put Leesburg ahead of last years pace if the three are heroin overdose fatalities?  How are any of these efforts being tracked to either improve upon or even drop and go a different direction? 

So where are we as a county in overdoses? Nothing in here from the county on statistics of overdoses. Nothing in the article explaining what the Heroin Operation Team does and statistics on cases initiated on their own. No information on how many officers from Loudoun are on the HOT.

Sadly it is basically the same information with another photograph of the politicians of them having a meeting.  I think it would be nice to get data from law enforcement and medical data from VDH on overdoses. 
I will again applaud the initial effort but I think publications and meetings like this after programs and efforts have been in existence for a while now should come with data on how things are going.  How do they know if things are on the right track on all of these efforts. I get that prescriptions are down and that is good (maybe?)


I agree this is a big problem but I think drug addiction is a choice.  I disagree with deputies carrying Naloxone.  Let EMS personnel handle the issue.  With all the drugs being cut with fentanyl I believe it’s becoming too dangerous for law enforcement personnel to handle drug offenders.  Let EMS who carry biohazard protection in their units handle the situation.  More drug addicts may die from overdoes but we won’t lose LE personnel.  Weekly there is a news store about contamination issues.  How much is being spent in a year for officers to carry Naloxone?  Save the expense.


ABC


It is funny how Comstock has time for drug abusers, hookers, refugees and illegal immigrants but questions about the Potomac Rive Bridge crossing which will cost eastern Loudoun immensely remain unaddressed by her or her staff. Elect Shak Hill!


A never ending money grab that is not a essential core government issue. Take it up with the medical people who prescribe the poison and increase penalty for dealing. Using drugs is a choice not a disease and recovery is not the taxpayers job. Get your hand out of my pocket!


“...the emergency department has dramatically reduced the number of opioids they prescribe. Instead they are offering patients experiencing pain non-narcotic options like Toradol.”

Well, that’s true, and it doesn’t seem to matter that Toradol is wholly ineffective for many types of pain. We have a national opioid problem—same as in the 70s/early 80s—and our response is to prevent those truly in pain from getting the help they need. There’s the real story for you LTM: how many hundreds of pain-inflicted individuals are being accused of being drug addicts and are being kept from effective drugs for their pain because of the actions of those who are hooked. Before long I think you may see an uptick in those seeking illegal drugs because it’s the ONLY pain relief they can get. Unintended consequences anyone?


Is this a new addition to the English language?

“Taking a full-thronged approach…”

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