Community meetings aim to spread awareness of heroin problem

Members of the public will get a chance to receive an update on the region’s deepening struggle to control the spread of heroin at a public forum scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Stimpson Auditorium at Shenandoah University in Winchester.

The form includes an appearance by a local father who will talk about his efforts to overcome his addiction and rebuild his life.

A panel of speakers will discuss the severity of heroin addiction in the northern Shenandoah Valley and responses to the epidemic. Lt. Wally Stotlemyer, a member of the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force, will also talk about law enforcement efforts and the signs and symptoms of drug abuse.

Lauren Cummings, community relations specialist with the Winchester Police Department, said those involved in anti-heroin efforts are hoping for a good turnout from the public.

“We want to educate the public as to what is happening in the community and how it is affecting local families,” Cummings said.

The eight deaths linked to heroin overdoses this year in Frederick, Shenandoah, Clarke, Warren and Page counties and Winchester roughly equal the pace of last year that ended with 33 overdose deaths.

Another community event, Your Kids Know More Than You Do: Straight Talk for Parents About Teen Drug Use, is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 14 at the Patsy Cline Auditorium at Handley High School. Dr. Will Rushton, an emergency physician specializing in medical and clinical toxicology, will talk about current trends in recreational drug use and what parents should know.

Rushton’s presentation is open only to adults.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or

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