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Virginia launches group to address heroin and prescription drug abuse

NORWICH, CT - MARCH 23:  Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display on March 23, 2016 in Norwich, CT. Communities nationwide are struggling with the unprecidented opioid pain pill and heroin addiction epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

NORWICH, CT - MARCH 23: Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display on March 23, 2016 in Norwich, CT. Communities nationwide are struggling with the unprecidented opioid pain pill and heroin addiction epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. — The day  after families affected by opioid addiction addressed Richmond mayoral hopefuls, Attorney General Mark R. Herring announced the launch of a campaign to help prevent heroin and opioid use.

Overdose fatalities in Virginia are expected to approach or exceed 1,000 in 2016, a number that would be on par with the state’s number of fatalities from car crashes.

That grim statistic has prompted Herring to double down on his efforts to address heroin and prescription drug abuse, through education, prevention, enforcement, and legislative solutions.

“The only way we’re ever going to get our arms around this problem is with a robust, concerted effort to educate Virginians, especially young people, on just how dangerous these drugs can be, how quickly they can take over your life, and how severe or even deadly the consequences of abuse can be,” Herring said.

The newly launched “Hampton Roads Heroin Working Group” is intended  to provide a model for communities seeking an effective, coordinated community response to the crisis in their area.

The group will bring together the public, law enforcement, the medical community, and others to develop community-wide solutions to the heroin and prescription drug crisis.

The group will spend the next year developing “demand-side” strategies to complement ongoing “supply-side” efforts by Herring and U.S. Attorney Dana Boente to hold dealers and traffickers accountable through strategic prosecutions of major suppliers of heroin and other opioids.

Herring will also partner with community organizations and local law enforcement to screen his award winning documentary “Heroin: The Hardest Hit,” which features Virginians sharing their own stories of addiction, recovery, and the ways that substance abuse disorder has affected them and their families. In the coming

In the coming weeks he will relaunch http://www.HardestHitVA.com as a comprehensive resource for Virginians seeking education, prevention, and treatment resources.

All screenings are free and open to the public.

They will feature “Heroin: The Hardest Hit” as well as testimony from individuals in the area who have been impacted by opioid addiction including parents, law enforcement, and people in long-term recovery.

Screenings are currently scheduled for:

Warrenton
When: Monday, October 3, 2016, 7 p.m.
Where: Boys and Girls Club
169 Keith Street
Warrenton, Virginia

Chesterfield
When: Wednesday, October 5, 2016; 6:30 p.m.
Where: Manchester High School
12601 Bailey Bridge Road
Midlothian, Virginia

Herndon
When: Thursday, October 6, 2016; 6:30 p.m.
Where: Herndon Middle School
901 Locust Street
Herndon, Virginia

More screenings will be scheduled throughout the fall.

Additional initiatives will be announced in the coming weeks to help educate young people on the dangers of these drugs, to prevent abuse of prescription opioids, to support law enforcement in their fight against heroin and prescription drug abuse, and to provide additional legislative solutions to the crisis.