Town hall meeting about dangers of heroin and prescription drug abuse held in Fairfax County

- A Virginia high school that lost a student to prescription drugs was the site of a town hall meeting about heroin and prescription abuse.

Alexia Springer’s parents were among several dozen people who attended the meeting at Centreville High School on Tuesday. The 17-year-old student died in early March after using prescription drugs at a party. An autopsy showed morphine, oxycodone, an anxiety drug and alcohol in her system.

Her mother, Rona Powell, briefly spoke and thanked everyone at the meeting.

“I think that this shows that there is hope for this community, for people throughout the country to be able to take a hold of these addictions, these drugs – and kids and giving them education and support,” Powell said.

The meeting included Fairfax County police, school officials as well as recovering addicts and people who have lost family members to drugs.

“It felt like I wasn’t alone and I need that,” said Powell. “I need to be able to feel like I’m a part of something. That is why I’m here. I want to be able to take a position and be able to advocate for other parents, and for other people to survive and have the education for this terrible disease.”

Fairfax County police spoke about the prevalence of the prescription drug fentanyl, the powerful painkiller that killed singer Prince. Fentanyl is now the most deadly prescription drug in Virginia, taking the lives of 218 people in 2015, according to the Virginia Department of Health.

Police said because fentanyl is difficult to get by prescription, but it is now being made in black market labs, and they warn parents that it is being sold on the internet.

Police also spoke about how common heroin overdoses have become in Fairfax County, with an overdose happening just about every day. A lieutenant shared that he saw four in one day recently, and even had to leave the meeting temporarily because he got a call about an overdose.

A Fairfax County school official shared that a student survey shows about 2,500 high school students self-report misusing a prescription drug in the last 30 days. She said there will be conversations over the summer on new ways to educate students about drugs.

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