December 16, 2022
“We need to treat addiction as a medical problem, not a personal choice or moral failing.” “We need to focus on harm reduction.” Those are messages shared by Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid; Virginia-based author, Beth Macy; and Ginny Atwood Lovitt, co-founder and executive director of the Chris Atwood Foundation (CAF).
Macy spoke on Tuesday night at a book signing event hosted by Bards Alley Bookshop at 1st Stage theater in Tysons. Macy’s newest book is Raising Lazarus, a sequel to her 2018 book, Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company That Addicted America, on which a Hulu limited series is based. While Dopesick documented the causes and effects of the opioid crisis, Raising Lazarus focuses on harm reduction – “activists, volunteers and outreach workers… innovated treatment regimens on manila envelopes, broke rules when they needed to, and butted heads with bureaucrats who refused to humanely treat those who had been most neglected, over the longest time, simply because of the stigma that adheres to drug use,” writes Macy.
The CAF, which is featured in Raising Lazarus, was created in 2013 after the Atwood family lost their son and brother Chris to an accidental overdose at age 21. Ginny Atwood Lovitt is an activist who spearheaded the unanimous passage of three Virginia state laws that pioneered community-based access to Narcan for all Virginia residents and collaborated on a team that advocated for three more state laws increasing the health and safety of people impacted by substance use. In a partnership with the Sheriff’s Office, the CAF provides Peer Recovery Specialists to support inmates with substance use disorders and recovery housing scholarships to help them upon release. Shelly Young is the CAF Director of Programs and the mother of a young adult in recovery. Working closely with the Sheriff’s Office, Young facilitates family learning and reunification in Sheriff Kincaid’s Striving to Achieve Recovery (STAR) program in the ADC.
Macy writes, “Those of us privileged enough to have social capital should urge gatekeepers in government, health care and law enforcement to study initiatives that are working elsewhere,” and she cites Sheriff Kincaid’s jail-based recovery programs as ones that should be replicated.
Sheriff Kincaid is quoted frequently by Macy:
“You don’t need bigger jails, and I’ve told the past two governors that,” said Kincaid, the county’s sheriff since 2013. “What you need are places where people can go and get their lives back.”
For more information about the Sheriff’s STAR and Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) programs, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.