‘Dangers of Heroin' Sparks Town Hall Meetings


SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. - No matter where you live, officials across the four-state area say the same thing: heroin is hurting their communities.

"We see that our statistics are going up in terms of seizures and the amount of arrests that we're making, but the deaths are going up as well, and the overdoses are going up as well," said Shenandoah County Sheriff, Timothy Carter.

In Shenandoah County, officials say since heroin is a community problem, the only way to fully combat the epidemic is to get the community involved.

"We decided to put together these town hall meetings to get people real detailed information about signs, common household items that are indicative of heroin use," said Commonwealth’s Attorney, Amanda Wisely of Shenandoah County.

Household items can include things like burned spoons, scraps of aluminum foil and q-tips lying around their personal space.

Users will "definitely [show] a decrease in body weight. We’re going to notice sunken eyes, lethargic behavior, loss of appetite, increase sugar intake, things like [of] nature," said James Pullman, Director of Community Outreach of Recovery Associates out of Florida. The company specializes in raising awareness in drug addictions.

While officials shared alarming statistics regarding the increase of heroin use, others spoke about what to do if you discover a friend or family member using the drug

"Try not to blame the person,” said Justin Kunzelman, an Outreach Coordinator also with Recovery Associates. “While they still are responsible, and they need to be held accountable for their actions, it's absolutely an illness and it needs treatment. They need professional help to get over this."

Counselors say heroin use impacts a diverse group, and help is available no matter what socio-economic status you're in.

"There is no specific person or type of people that are using it,” said Wisely, when asked about one of the common myths of heroin addictions. “We have individuals as young as middle schoolers. A lot of times they are athletes. They are popular students. It's not the typical you look at someone and think, 'That's a drug abuser.' "

The Commonwealth's Attorney of Shenandoah County and local law enforcement agencies, with the cooperation of Shenandoah County Public Schools, will be hosting their third and final “Dangers of Heroin” Town Hall Meeting at:

Where: Stonewall Jackson High School Library

150 Stonewall Lane

Quicksburg, Va.

When: 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm (approx.)

The purpose of this meeting is to educate citizens about heroin, warning signs of heroin use, how communities are combating the problem and its devastating effect on individuals and families.

Participating agencies includes the Shenandoah County Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, Strasburg Police Department, New Market Police Department, Edinburg Police Department, Northwest Virginia Drug and Gang Task Force, Valley Health/Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office, Woodstock Police Department, Mount Jackson Police Department, VA State Police, 11th Distribution Parole, CLEAN Inc. and Crossroads Counseling.

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