Preliminary statistics show fatal drug overdose deaths may go down in 2018

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) There is a glimmer of good news in the fight against opioid addiction. Preliminary numbers from the Virginia Department of Health show the number of fatal overdoses may go down this year.

The last time that number trended downward was in 2012.

Inside the Bradley Free Clinic, Rae Barker has seen both sides of addiction.

Rae Barker, Hope Initiative Administrator, said, “It also is so rewarding to know that my pain has a purpose.”

She had been addicted to opioids, and now works as an administrator for the Hope Initiative, helping others find the right treatment.

Barker said, “I really believe that it helps me even more than it helps them.”

Nancy Hans, Prevention Council, said, “We need to save a life to connect them to treatment.”

This is why Nancy Hans with the Prevention Council is pleased with the latest numbers from the Virginia Department of Health. Projections show the number of deadly drug overdoses could go down by around 80 people this year. Hans says the increased awareness and use of Narcan is contributing to the drop.

“It's something that saves lives,” said Hans.

She also believes the Hope Initiative, as well as Urgent Love -- are having an impact.

“Those are the resources -- they weren't even here three years ago,” said Hans.

They're not claiming victory yet, but it's the first taste of good news in their ongoing fight. One Rae Barker is all too familiar with.

Barker said, “If we can save their lives then they actually have a chance of recovering and maybe do what I'm doing and help other people.”