There has been an ongoing trend across Virginia since the COVID-19 outbreak this spring with the numbers of emergency calls and deaths associated with drug overdoses spiking across the region.
Since Jan. 1, Halifax County has fielded 64 calls for drug overdose emergencies and is investigating six deaths as having possibly resulted from suspected drug overdoses.
In other communities, law enforcement and rescue personnel are responding to as many as 10 to 15 emergency calls a week related to drug overdoses.
“Our first responders are finding overdose victims in people’s homes and on the streets of our community,” said Capt. Dennis W. Barker of the South Boston Police Department. “It’s become almost commonplace to find individuals passed out in their vehicles, on a sidewalk or alongside a road. We have even had instances where individuals suffering from the effects of illegal drugs are exhibiting dangerous behaviors, such as jumping on cars in parking lots or running into oncoming traffic on the highways.”
Halifax County law enforcement officers and rescue personnel across the county have been administering Narcan — opioid-overdose antidote — to individuals suffering from overdoses to save lives, according to Barker.
According to the Virginia State Police, local law enforcement and local hospitals, two fatal heroin overdoses have been reported in Mecklenburg County and two fatal heroin overdose deaths in Charlotte County during the first six months of 2020, compared to zero during the same time in 2019. Heroin, often combined with Fentanyl, and the synthetic marijuana mixture known as K2 or Spice have been most commonly associated with the local overdose emergencies, said Barker.
Anyone who witnesses or is experiencing a drug overdose is encouraged to call 911 as soon as possible, the captain with the police department said.
Virginia has what is known as a “Good Samaritan” law, Code of Virginia 18.2-251.03, that provides defense against the prosecution of an individual reporting in good faith an overdose to a firefighter, police officer, medic/EMT or 911 dispatcher as long as that person remains at the scene until police respond and cooperates with the investigation.
The law also applies to an individual self-reporting an overdose.
With multiple emergency calls coming in every week related to suspected drug overdoses, regional law enforcement and rescue personnel are encouraging local residents to take advantage of the numerous resources provided by Southside Community Services Board (SCSB) and Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.
The SCSB is located at 424 Hamilton Blvd. in South Boston and has immediate openings to provide treatment for opioid addiction.
They offer medication-assisted therapy on Friday mornings starting at 8:30 a.m.
They also have counseling, case management and peer support services for individuals who would like treatment.
To obtain further information, call 833-272-2778, and the caller will be connected to a provider who will provide the process of obtaining treatment.
If anyone is in need of immediate assistance, call emergency services at 833-377-7272 and a clinician will assist.
If anyone is having a medical emergency call 911.
In addition, SCSB offers training in the use of Narcan with REVIVE!, with current sessions being offered through virtual courses.
These free online teleconferences will be given on Sept. 11 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Sept. 22 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Sept. 29 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For information on REVIVE! contact Kenan Tyner- Smith at 434-572-6916 ext. 1550.
Sentara Behavioral Health Services and Specialists, a part of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, also offers a variety of services to include programs for partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, step-down, individual and family counseling, and medication management as direct services to help clients manage addiction.
For additional information call 434-517-3651.
If a person fighting addiction has a criminal case pending before a court in Halifax County, they may be eligible to participate in the Halifax County Drug Court Program.
This is a program designed for individuals battling addiction and facing certain criminal charges to participate in and get help in their fight against addiction to get their lives back on track.
Anyone interested in this program is urged to speak with his or her defense lawyer about his or her desire to enter the program.
Halifax County Drug Court is directed by the Halifax/Pittsylvania Court Services and supported by law enforcement, the office of the commonwealth’s attorney and the community services board and other agencies which can be reached at 434-476-1183.