Editor: Over the past several months, we have seen the heroin and opioid crisis balloon in the headlines in Virginia. During 2016, I’ve had a personal crisis that has followed in the footsteps of the national crisis.
My son battles with opioid addiction. This situation has taken its toll on me and my family. My point of view on the issue has changed; as a father, citizen, and legislator. I have seen first-hand how our criminal justice, mental health, and crisis intervention systems may not be meeting the challenge of this crisis.
Through my experience I have learned that families often don’t understand the disease of addiction. I’ve learned that it is often difficult and expensive to access to care or to find a doctor who can prescribe medicine such as Suboxone that may be helpful in treating addiction. I have also learned that first responders have see a tremendous increase in Opiod related incidents and are frequently put in difficult situations.
My family’s story is not unique; it can happen to anyone and with my son’s permission I share my story in an effort to help others. Addiction is a family disease and I know it’s both difficult and personal for everyone. Action on this crisis is on my agenda in the General Assembly, including increasing access to overdose reversal drugs, being an ally in the fight to reform our mental health system, and finding new ways for those in an addiction crisis to get to the resources they need.
On Tuesday, Dec. 13, community leaders and I will host a showing of the film, “Heroin: the Hardest Hit” to help educate on the current opioid crisis. The screening and discussion will begin at 7 pm at Brambleton Corner Clubhouse, 42255 Palladian Blue Terrace, Brambleton. Please call (571) 367-9080 for more details. I hope you will be able to join us for the film.
Del. John Bell , South Riding