(Updated: March 3, 3:23 p.m.)
The battle against heroin continues.
Just yesterday, one young resident likely died as a result of heroin use. This case, along with many others in recent years, highlights the increasing use of heroin in our area and the dangers associated with this dangerous drug.
“In my 23 years with the Police Department, I barely encountered heroin,” said 2nd Lieutenant Michael Shamblin. “In the last year or two, I’ve seen a huge increase in the number of cases.”
- The federal government now reports that more people die from drug overdoses each year than in car crashes.
- In Northern Virginia, heroin-related deaths increased 164 percent (between 2011 and 2013).
- In Fairfax County, there was a 22 percent increase in the number of people who needed services from use of heroin, non-prescription methadone, and/or other opiates (between 2011 and 2014).
- In Fairfax County, the number of deaths from heroin overdose doubled (between 2013 and 2014).
- Fire and Rescue Department responded to 291 suspected heroin overdoses across the county (between 2011 and 2014)
It’s a battle on many fronts targeting both dealers and users.
“We quickly realized enforcement efforts alone were not going to solve this problem,” said Captain Jack Hardin, commander of the Police Department’s organized crime and narcotics division. “We formed a partnership with Community Services Board to help identify users and people who abuse heroin and opiods to seek assistance.”
Through this partnership, Police now offer CSB contact information and resources to those who need help breaking the cycle of addiction.
Last week, a variety of enforcement and education actions were taken by sheriff’s and police departments across the region targeting dealers and users.
In Fairfax County, officers focused on the education and awareness components of heroin use and addiction.
Dealers that were arrested, although not eligible for entrance into the Operation: Save a Life program, were provided information on how they may obtain help for dealing with their addiction once released from custody. Persons arrested for simple possession, however, were offered an opportunity to seek immediate substance abuse treatment for their addiction.
In Fairfax County, officers obtained 38 arrest warrants for possession of heroin or distribution; police served 20 of them. Of those 20:
- 12 people volunteered to be evaluated by CSB
- 5 were transported to the Merrifield Crisis Response Center where they met with CSB professionals and began their road to recovery
Watch this video detailing the operation and more data about heroin use.
Hardin says one of the individuals who began rehab called police to express her appreciation that “she was being provided the help she needed rather than just arresting and incarcerating her.”
The Community Services Board offers opiate or substance abuse help for users and family members. For example, a new, free program called REVIVE! can help. REVIVE! is a program of the Commonwealth of Virginia that makes naloxone (Narcan) available to lay rescuers to reverse opioid overdoses. Opioids include licit medications like hydrocodone and oxycodone, in addition to illicit drugs like heroin.
For entry and referral services to overcome drug dependence, call the Community Services Board at 703-383-8500. Our staff can help you find treatment and recovery resources.
- In an emergency, call these 24-hour numbers: Fairfax Detoxification Center at 703-502-7000 or CSB Emergency Services at 703-573-5679.
- If the emergency is life-threatening, call 911. Our Fire and Rescue personnel carry medication that can prevent deaths from opiate overdose.
- Individuals using any type of opiate have priority for services and can visit our Merrifield Center for an assessment without an appointment.