Fairfax County holds town hall to address heroin and prescription drug abuse crisis

- Heroin and prescription drug use has taken off in Virginia recently, especially in Fairfax County. The problem is so bad that county leaders met with the Drug Enforcement Administration, police and the community Tuesday to spread awareness and look for solutions.

County Supervisor Pat Herrity, who organized the meeting, said he is hearing about heroin overdoses just about every day. He said there were two overdoses Tuesday – one fatal and the other near fatal.

On Monday, autopsy results for a Centreville High School teenager who was initially thought to have overdosed on heroin was released. The report said Alexia Springer died from a cocktail of morphine, oxycodone, an anxiety drug and alcohol.

"These kids are having 'pharm parties,’" Herrity said. "They put a bunch of pills in a bowl and mix them with alcohol."

He said he found out the party Springer attended before she died was in his own neighborhood.

A former heroin addict who spoke at the meeting said he remembers these kinds of parties from when he was attending high school in Fairfax County.

"People show up and there are drugs available, and there is alcohol available," said Nick Yacoub, who now works with the Substance Abuse and Addiction Recovery Alliance. "The parents are either gone or away. Sometimes there are parents that are enabling and allowing all this to happen because they figure, 'Well if it's happening, if I keep watching, nothing bad might happen.' And that is just simply not the case."

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.) also attended the town hall. Local and federal leaders vowed to work together to combat what is being called “a public health crisis.”

Herrity said he is working to bring back drug counselors to Fairfax County high schools after those positions were cut for budget reasons.

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