Becoming aware of the dangers of opioids is one of Virginia’s greatest defenses for the prevention of opioid abuse and overdose.  As a community of citizens, policy makers, law enforcement, and physicians, we all have a role to play in the fight against opioid use disorder (OUD) and overdose deaths.

In 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe convened a Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse to address the opioid addiction and overdose crisis that the Commonwealth is facing. Now, more Virginians now die every year from an overdose than in automobile accidents. Nationally, there is an overdose death every 20 minutes.

What are opioids? 

When you hear opioids, it means heroin and prescription painkillers. Some examples are OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, Codeine, and Fentanyl. Opioid pain relievers are generally safe when taken for a short time and as prescribed by a doctor, but because they produce extreme happiness in addition to pain relief, they can be misused. When prescribed by a doctor and taken correctly, prescription painkillers can be used safely to manage pain. However, they are very addictive and strong, one incorrect dose could be enough to cause serious health problems — and even death from overdose.

Proper Storage and Disposal

Properly disposing of your prescription drugs can help prevent your child or loved one from recreational drug use. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to prescription drug abuse. Young adults (18-25) abuse prescription drugs at the highest rate and use them for non-prescribed reasons. 1 in 4 teens report misusing or abusing prescription drugs- a 33% increase in the past five years. Additionally, over 2/3 of people (over 12) who abuse prescription medications report that they obtained the medicine from a family member or friend for free.

If you have unused, expired, or unwanted medications and need a way to safely dispose of them, you can get drug disposal bags from your local Health Department.

If you represent an organization that is interested in partnering with the Commonwealth of Virginia to host a prescription drug Take-Back event, start with the Office of the Attorney General’s Guidebook.

Additional Resources

D.A.R.E Addresses the Opioid Epidemic