New program hopes to end cycle of opioid abuse, empower women

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - A grant of $500,000 in federal money is going toward a new program to help end the cycle of opioid addiction in Southwest Virginia.

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“This is a great start, but I see it as a beginning,” Covington Mayor Tom Sibold said.

Sibold joined other local leaders at a press conference Monday where Total Action for Progress, known as TAP, announced its new RESTORE program.

“Programs like this will make a difference in our community,” Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea said.

Southwest Virginia is at the center of the nation’s opioid crisis. In 2017, the Roanoke Valley saw 197.5 opioid overdoses per 100,000 people and in Alleghany Highlands there were 27.2 opioid related deaths per 100,000 people.

“The numbers are staggering and fairly scary particularly when you are looking at the rural areas,” Jo Nelson, a workforce training director with TAP said.

RESTORE will focus on providing career services and job training to women who are either recovering addicts or whose families have been affected by opioids.

“We’ve worked with lots of people over the years to get them in jobs but the opioid epidemic has a few pieces to it we aren’t used to,” Nelson said.

That’s why TAP is creating strong partnerships with people like the mayor of Covington, who said he sees the effects of the epidemic firsthand.

“I can think of several women off the top of my head that are in a situation either recovering addict or the spouse of an addict,” Sibold said.

The program will help these women gain independence and create more stability in their homes.

“We are looking at having 18 women enrolled in job training between now and December so that’s a tall order, but I think we are up for it and our partners are up for it,” Nelson said.

In total the program plans to serve 120 women throughout the Roanoke Valley, New River Valley and Alleghany Highlands.

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