Virginia’s Opioid Epidemic | Tristan Shields

Virginia’s Opioid Epidemic

Opioid addiction is a huge problem. Over 1,420 Virginians died of a drug overdose in 2016, and the emotional and economic drain is especially hard on rural communities.

I see a two-step approach:

First Prevention: 80% of opioid addictions start with a prescription. We need to increase our ability to shut down “Pill Mills” and over-prescribers. We can do that by streamlining and strengthening the under used and confusing Prescription Monitoring System we currently have in Virginia.

Second Intervention: We need to view this epidemic like the health crisis it is, both physically and mentally. That means treating people like patients rather than criminals. In a practical sense, that means more resources directed towards community partnerships, education and treatment options. This is one place where the millions of dollars we keep sending out of the Commonwealth by refusing Medicaid expansion would be helpful.