As overdose fatalities continue to rise, Attorney General Herring reports progress on all parts of his Five-Point Plan, including prosecution of 28 cases involving more than 95 kilos of heroin, bipartisan legislative solutions, education and prevention initiatives, and more.
RICHMOND (October 7, 2015) – As part of his continuing efforts to address a troubling rise in heroin and prescription drug overdose fatalities in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Mark R. Herring reported in on milestones in the first year of his Five-Point Plan to combat heroin and prescription drug abuse. While progress has been made in every segment of the plan, according to the latest data from the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, heroin and prescription drug fatalities are continuing to rise in the Commonwealth. In 2014, 728 Virginians lost their lives to heroin and prescription drug overdoses, up from 661 in 2013. In the last five years, fatal overdoses have increased by 57% and nearly 3,000 Virginians have lost their lives.
In the year since launching the innovative, collaborative, and comprehensive strategy, his team has prosecuted 28 state and federal cases involving more than 95 kilos of heroin, won passage of three life-saving anti-overdose bills, held professionals accountable for making prescription opioids illegally available and launched several prevention and education initiatives with more coming in the months ahead. The plan was developed after Attorney General Herring’s first statewide public safety tour in which three quarters of localities expressed concern with a rising tide of heroin and prescription drug overdose fatalities.
“This heroin and prescription drug epidemic is a public health issue, a public safety and law enforcement issue, and most importantly, it’s a family issue. The rising and tragic death toll adds a dose of reality and a sense of urgency to our efforts and those of our local, state and federal partners,” said Attorney General Mark R. Herring. “I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, the infrastructure we’ve helped build, and the awareness we’ve brought to the problem, but we must remain steadfast in our efforts and remember that behind every overdose and every case of addiction there are families and communities who suffer. Meeting folks who have lost loved ones serves as my motivation every single day and I will not waiver in my commitment to fight this deadly epidemic.”
“We commend the Attorney General’s Office for its continuing support as we work together to educate the community on the dangers of heroin and prescription drug abuse,” said Roanoke Police Chief Chris Perkins. “It’s comforting to know that law enforcement agencies in the Roanoke Valley have a strong voice in Richmond advocating for a range of solutions, including training, education, and prevention, such as the recent Prescription Drug Take Back. At the last Take Back event near the end of September, citizens across the valley dropped of 3,219 pounds of prescription medication to be destroyed, ensuring those medications will never fall into the wrong hands.”
“Mr. Herring’s plan is a great start to this opiate epidemic,” said Honesty Brackett Liller, CEO of the McShin Foundation. “Our vision is to help that person struggling with addiction as soon as possible. They need access to detox and recovery support services immediately, not wait for services. With this, I believe there will be at least a 20% decrease of overdoses and 30% decrease of criminal justice costs. To have to wait for services could be a cost of a life.”
“This problem can only be addressed through a comprehensive effort and I am happy to work with all local, state and federal stakeholders to attack this growing epidemic,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman.
The full press release can be found here.