Opioid Abuse Targeted during Drug Collection Initiative

Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman gathered with federal and state drug enforcement leaders in Leesburg on Saturday to raise awareness of the opioid abuse epidemic locally and across the county.

The press conference, featuring acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, coincided with National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, when residents were encouraged to drop off unused and expired medications at police offices.

During the weekend, more than 1,300 pounds of prescription medication was collected by the Sheriff’s Office, and police departments in Middleburg and Purcellville.

The event took place at DEA Museum exhibit that depicts the impacts of drug abuse. Also speaking were U.S. Attorney Dana Boente; Virginia Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Victoria Cochran; and Nick Yacoub, of the Substance Abuse Addiction and Recovery Alliance.

Rosenberg said the United States currently consumes 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone and about 80 percent of the world’s oxycodone. “We will lose 47,000 people this year to a drug overdose. That is a stunning number.”

Heroin Operations TeamChapman said home medicine cabinets are a primary source of opiates for area teens, but others are looking there as well. He cited a case of a pet sitter who took medications from a client’s home and drugs being stolen by visitors during real estate open houses. Chapman also attributed many thefts from homes and businesses to drug addicts seeking to pawn items for money to feed their habit.

During the first four months of 2016, the Sheriff’s Office has been called to 10 overdose cases, including one fatality. During all of 2015, deputies worked 11 overdoses, two of which were fatal.

In Loudoun, four out of five heroin users became addicted to opiates by first using prescription drugs. They then turn to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to get.

“It’s happening everywhere. It’s happening in all ages,” Chapman said. “It doesn’t matter what your income is, it doesn’t matter where you live in the county. This is affecting everybody. And awareness is the key. Making sure everybody knows it out there. And stay away from it because once you try it, you’re done. You’re going to be addicted to it.”

“We know we cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” Cochran said. “We must fight back. We must fight back together.”

Nick Yacoub, of the Substance Abuse Addiction and Recovery Alliance.
Nick Yacoub, of the Substance Abuse Addiction and Recovery Alliance.

At the state level, the Governor’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse has focused on building a better database to track opioid prescriptions and on legislation to allow law enforcement officers to carry and administer the overdose antidote naloxone, for which all Loudoun deputies are being trained.

Yacoub, a recovering alcoholic and addict who works to help others, said it was important for families and the community to talk about struggles with drug addiction.

“This disease dies when exposed to the light of day,” he said.


5 thoughts on “Opioid Abuse Targeted during Drug Collection Initiative

  • 2016-05-02 at 5:59 pm

    Good news on how much prescription drugs were turned in. It would be nice to have follow ups for where to turn things in between these drug take back days. I thought there was supposed to be participating pharmacies that would take in old prescription drugs all the time? Once again it would be nice for there to be an easier and more convenient way to drop off these drugs every day if people wished. You know, a true private/public partnership if you will to combat this issue. If this isn’t being done, then why hasn’t the H.O.T. thought of this or instituted it throughout the county or region? This twice a year stuff is helpful but come on, in a crisis like this there needs to be many other avenues for people to get rid of stuff.

    If there is no other way, then I find it a bit troubling that these events are only about twice a year and people hoard the drugs between events, and once again allowing opportunities for the drugs to accumulate and then to be used and abused….again!!

    It is also nice to see that the political figure head actually provided some data, and it was not good data at all. That must have been tough on many fronts to admit and push out, but at least he did so THANK YOU!!! This does prove that there is data out there since he is referencing it from somewhere. It would be nice to see the last few years overdose numbers and fatalities, and specifically what areas of the county it is occurring. Ah but there again he let it out by saying that it is happening everywhere and by every type of economic background from poor to well off. So he has some data from somewhere. Nice of him to share it at this “press conference”.

    Still looking for the data for the years past in overdoses, fatalities and how many deputies are assigned to this H.O.T. team full time? How many cases are they working in Loudoun County where they have initiated (on their own) a case? Not one from a deputy on the street getting it off of a person, or off of an overdose case, but one they have generated. How much time are they spending in Loudoun County compared to other jurisdictions? Citizens and BoS need to know this kind of information. Many of us just want data so we can all be aware of what is going on. Is that too much to ask from our public safety officials?

  • 2016-05-03 at 12:50 pm

    Can we please get to the root of the problem and work with the Dr.’s to stop over prescribing. 1300 pounds of extra medicine just in this area! That is from the law abiding citizens. Imagine the volume that is floating around that isn’t being turned in. OMG!

    Not only is this the major contributor to the opiate problem, it is a financial atrocity! I can only imagine the real value/cost of each pill. From the cost to the individuals who were sick, the cost paid to Health Insurance Companies, the cost paid to the pharmacies, and then the money that would have been paid to the drug dealers! Just think of the money those pills, excessively prescribed have passed around!

  • 2016-05-05 at 8:55 am

    FH – the Leesburg Police station on Plaza has a drop box in the lobby for outdated and uneeded medication

    • 2016-05-10 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks CareerSwitcher. That is good to know and I looked for any press on whether the LCSO does this and I could not find it. Maybe they do as well?
      I am a bit dubious of the two fatal overdoses that the political figurehead mentions in the article for all of 2015. It seems that there were many more than that during the year, but as he says, he is accountable to the voters. Yet we have no information to corroborate this statistic of just two fatal overdoses of heroin in Loudoun County. It would be nice for this H.O.T. team to provide data regionally for each county for 2013, 2014, 2015 and so far into 2016. It seems as though the politician has data, and it seems like it is getting worse but we the voters don’t know for sure since nothing is released. I guess if no real bad data is supplied to voters then how is one then held accountable? Just like the crime data that is lumped together and not by the geographical areas where there are stations. It would be nice to have comparisons by each station for year to year on what is up and what is going down in the areas where we voters live I guess it is too much to ask. Politics need to be removed as much as possible from crime data and public safety. Another area PD has data fully supplied in years past, as a whole and at individual stations on crimes and individual crimes, so those in the other counties can see what is happening, but not here in Loudoun. What is the difference between agencies? One is a Police Department and one is a Sheriff’s Office who has a politician as its leader. And with voters/supporter who say “what possible reason would a sheriff impede information to the public? When FOIA requests are denied, and the politician writes a letter of his over the top accommodation to the press and public, and how other agencies drop standards to release information, then I guess we all get what we deserve. Nobody ask any questions and just take everything as one politician tells it as pure.

    • 2016-05-11 at 9:30 am

      And just like that, a press release is made by the Sheriff’s Office to announce that there are now drop off receptacles at several stations in the county. Now why couldn’t that announcement come with the take back day? I suspect that a politician needed to have the announcement all to themselves. Great timing! Geez!

      Anyway, that is good news and well overdue so let’s hope that many people take advantage of the drop off points during the year.

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