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Newport News Now

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Newport News Now is a daily e-newsletter that launched in March 2016. Articles that ran in our newsletter between March 2016 and March 2018 are available on these pages. Newsletters produced beginning in April 2018 can be viewed on our new daily newsletter page.

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Dec 29

Opioid Addiction on the Increase

Posted on December 29, 2016 at 7:58 AM by Communications Department

State Health Commissioner Declares Public Health Emergency in Virginia

According to recent information from Governor McAuliffe’s office, by the end of 2016 the numbers of fatal opioid overdose deaths in Virginia are expected to increase by 77 percent compared Addictionto five years ago. In 2014, for the first time in Virginia, more people died from opioid overdoses than fatal car accidents. In the first half of 2016, the total number of fatal drug overdoses in Virginia increased 35 percent, when compared to the same time period in 2015, and in 2013 fatal drug overdoses became the number one cause of unnatural death. In response to the Public Health Emergency, State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, 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 removes a barrier to access. 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.

It can be difficult to know what to do when someone close to you is facing addiction, but there are simple things everyone can do to help:
  • 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.
  • 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 has a new website VaAware that offers resources on how to best talk about addiction with someone you love.
  • 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 the Peninsula Health District upon request by calling Paula Peterson at 757-594-8482 or Brenda Hill at 757-594-7549. 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. Some local law enforcement agencies also collect and destroy unwanted drugs.
  • 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). 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 the Get Naloxone Now website

Learn more about Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education through the REVIVE! program.