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EARLY YEARS: Opioid abuse prevention meetings now spreading from Roanoke to New River Valleys

William Byrd Senior Hunter Bohon serves as a good example for his peers as a member of the school's prevention club
William Byrd Senior Hunter Bohon serves as a good example for his peers as a member of the school's prevention club(WDBJ)
Published: Mar. 6, 2019 at 4:58 AM EST
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Prevention starts with conversation.

That's the idea behind the Community Conversations hosted by the Prevention Council of Roanoke County.

The message on new posters promoting these conversations is "From JUUL to heroin and everything in between."

Prevention Council of Roanoke County's Executive Director Nancy Hans says there's a reason for that slogan.

"From Juuling to heroin and everything in between, it's because it is a path. There is not one person who wakes up and says 'I want to be a heroin addict.' There's a path there."

Hans says that path can begin as early as middle school with e- cigarettes, and progress from there.

That's why the prevention council, along with Roanoke County public schools and the Roanoke Valleywide Drug Task Force are reaching out to students where they are.

Part of their message is giving kids refusal skills.

"It was interesting because a lot of the kids would just say NO. But they now have new little phrase where they say, "Straight Up, No," says Hans.

William Byrd Senior Hunter Bohon is a member of the prevention club.

"We advocate for drug abuse prevention, drug abuse awareness, and basically healthy relationships," says Bohon.

One way local leaders are hoping to prevent opioid abuse is by spreading their message to more areas.

Community conversations now planned for the New River Valley in April.

"Because of this crisis, we really know that collaboratively, even across valleys, we can share a message," says Hans.

She says that can help put an end to the stigma AND the crisis.

"We're all a part of raising our kids in this community. And so, if we can come together and walk with parents, give them more tools, let them know, if you see a red flag, put your support team around you."

The next Community Conversation is happening on Monday, March 11 at William Byrd High School at 7:00 p.m. The next two meetings are happening at Glenvar High School on March 12 at 7:00 pm and Northside High School on March 25.

We also have a link to a series of opioid conversations happening in the New River Valley

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