As of Monday, the number of overdose deaths in the Northern Shenandoah Valley was double that of this time one year ago. We’re just entering the third month of the year, and already eight area residents have died of an overdose. That number could have been much higher, but 19 people who overdosed in the area this year were saved by treatment. Last year at this time, four people had died and 32 people had received life-saving treatment.
In the past week, authorities were alarmed by a sudden increase in drug-related deaths they say they believe are linked to a potent batch of heroin and fentanyl. From Thursday through Monday, two people in Warren County and two in Winchester died from overdoses. Two others overdosed in that period but were treated in time.
When is this going to end? Not anytime soon, by the number of court cases of distributing and possession of drugs that keep piling up each month.
Just take a look at indictments on drug-related charged handed up by grand juries in Shenandoah and Warren counties. On Monday, more than a dozen of the indictments in Warren County were drug-related. Last week, about the same number of people were indicted on drug charges in Shenandoah County.
In December, a federal grand jury indicted 18 people on drug trafficking charges in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg. Most of those listed live in Shenandoah County: five were from Mount Jackson, four from Edinburg, one from New Market, one from Woodstock, one from Basye and one from Quicksburg. Drugs these people are accused of distributing include heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine.
If you know of anyone using opioids, warn them about the recent spike in deaths. Here’s the number for the Northwestern Community Services’ peer to peer warm line: 833-626-1490. Give that number to someone — a user or a family member — so that they can talk about their experiences with a counselor.