Heroin deaths on the rise

The num­ber of deaths from heroin is ris­ing and abuse of pre­scrip­tion drugs in Vir­ginia has resulted in the state com­ing up with a five-part ini­tia­tive to save lives. Mon­day, Attor­ney Gen­eral Mark Her­ring announced the pro­gram at the Vir­ginia Asso­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Police meet­ing in Roanoke. Accord­ing to Her­ring, the sta­tis­tics from the state Med­ical Exam­iner show more than 800 Vir­gini­ans died from drug over­doses in 2012 and that heroin over­dose deaths were nearly dou­ble that from 103 in 2011 to 197 in 2013. The largest increase in heroin use was a 164% increase in North­ern Virginia.

The five-point plan focuses on pros­e­cu­tion, pre­ven­tion, edu­ca­tion, treat­ment and enforce­ment. Herring’s office has worked with Sec­re­tary of Pub­lic Safety and Home­land Secu­rity Brian Moran and the Depart­ment of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Ser­vices to orga­nize a sum­mit of law enforce­ment lead­ers, pros­e­cu­tors, and health pro­fes­sion­als to deter­mine what leg­isla­tive or tac­ti­cal changes may be needed to reduce the usage of and fatal­i­ties caused by pre­scrip­tion opi­ates and heroin. The day-long sum­mit will be held Octo­ber 2 in Charlottesville.