MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) A new report from the Centers for Disease Control reveals the city of Martinsville was number one in the nation for opioids being prescribed per-capita in 2015.
"I was shocked and I was very concerned," said Captain Robert Fincher of the Martinsville Police Department. "It's something that we've got to get a handle on."
Prescription opioids, simply put, are medications that relieve pain.
Common examples are Vicodin, Percocet, Codeine and OxyContin.
Doctors and physicians commonly prescribe the drugs to patients who have undergone painful surgeries or have been in severe accidents.
"Even if you're a person who originally was put on medication because of your legitimate pain, you may become addicted to it, and we hear stories about that all the time," said Bonnie Favero, a prevention manager with Piedmont Community Services.
Martinsville Police recently noticed a rise in opioid abuse and started an "Opioid Task Force" with help from other community groups. Since May, members of the task force have been going door to door every Saturday delivering educational pamphlets.
"It's a complicated problem," said Mary Kate Dillon, coordinator of the partnership for success program at Piedmont Community Services. "It's going to take all sectors of the community and that's what's exciting about working together in these joint efforts and doing our collaborating together."
Many people may be wondering, why Martinsville?
"We've known for a long time that Martinsville has had some of the highest unemployment in the state, for many years, and we see that opioid abuse and misuse seems to follow unemployment, disability, things like that," Favero explained.
According to Piedmont Community Services, local doctors and physicians are following new opioid prescribing guidelines that were set forth by the CDC last year that include prescription drug monitoring, pill counting and urine screening.