2. Culpeper’s heroin plague persists, but hope is on the horizon
Abuse of heroin and other pain-numbing opioids continued to plague the area – and country – in 2019, with Culpeper County remaining in the upper tier statewide for associated overdoses and deaths.
But even amid the hopelessness and suffering that come with drug addiction, hope is emerging as community groups collaborate on solutions.
At its first meeting of 2019, the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a permit to open the area’s first long-term drug treatment center. Mountain View Community Church is leading the push for the facility, called Christ-Centered Addiction Restoration Services, or CARS, on a 39-acre horse farm off U.S. 15 south of town.
The church, which holds weekly RESTORE support groups, is working to raise $900,000 to open the place while CRUSH – Community Resources United to Stop Heroin – remains active in that mission. A collaboration of various community agencies, CRUSH held various events in 2019 including an Opioid Epidemic Town Hall in January at which Warrenton Town Councilman Sean Polster dubbed our region “the epicenter” of the deadly problem.
Nationwide, it is estimated one person dies of a drug overdose every eight minutes. In Culpeper County in 2018, 42 overdoses and four deaths were recorded.
In April, the Culpeper Sheriff’s Office held a program at which it was learned overdoses continue to trend up, while deaths are down due to widespread use of Narcan.
Despite Health Department evidence that local addicts are increasingly sharing needles, leading to more hepatitis C infections, local officials declined to start a needle exchange program in Culpeper due to law-enforcement concerns.
July brought news of the opening of a private drug-addiction treatment center, SaVida Health, at 767 Madison Road in the town of Culpeper. SaVida provides medication-assisted treatment and counseling for drug and alcohol abusers.
This fall, Virginia approved creation of Culpeper’s first-ever drug court. When open, the court will provide nonprison options and support to repeat, nonviolent drug offenders. In related news, a local man was sentenced to 60 years in prison in October for dealing crack cocaine and heroin out of a car stereo shop on Montanus Drive.
Also in October, a court combined Culpeper County’s lawsuit seeking damages for opioid abuse with a National Prescription Opiate Litigation case involving more than 2,000 other localities. The local lawsuit says Culpeper has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, including its babies born addicted with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome higher than the statewide rate in all but one year since 2012.
More hope emerged in December when CRUSH announced the first-ever Oxford House peer-led sober home will open in the town of Culpeper in 2020. Culpeper Wellness Foundation and the PATH Foundation are providing financial support for the home, which will provide seven beds for men or women on the road to recovery.
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