Northam discusses opioid issues facing the New River Valley

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) In 2017, the Virginia Department of Health reported nearly 30 overdose deaths in the New River Valley. Today, Governor Ralph Northam joined a roundtable discussion about the community's effort to combat the drug crisis in the NRV.

The event was held at the New River Valley Community Services in Blacksburg, an organization that provides behavioral health services to the community.

"We, over the last several years, have seen an increase in demand for services in the areas of mental health and substance abuse disorders," Mike Wade, Community Relations Specialist."

Over the last couple of years, there's been a rise in fatal overdoses in the NRV. According to the Virginia Department of Health, 26 people died in 2017 in the New River Valley due to overdose.

"And that's an increase of about 10 from 2 years previously," Wade said.

Today, Governor Northam listened as community and medical leaders discussed the opioid problems facing Virginia.

"Something that Virginians need to realize is that last year we lost 1,227 Virginians to opioid overdose," Northam said.

He said it's all hands on deck right now when it comes to helping people battle their addictions.

"I just say as the governor and as a physician, we're all human. I just encourage everyone that needs help, or if you know someone that needs help out there, that we're there to help you."

One way New River Valley Community Services is raising awareness about drug abuse is through a new campaign called "The Face of Addiction is Mine." It combats the stigma surrounding addiction.

"The face of addiction is you. It's me. It's everyone. We're all effected by this issue in some way," Wade said.

Northam put it this way, "Addiction doesn't discriminate."

Wade wants everyone who seeks help to become their own success story.

"A success story for us would be to keep people in the community, to not have them hospitalized for a mental health problem or be incarcerated for a substance use issue," Wade said.