Northern Virginia sees surge in addiction rates; stigma remains barrier to treatment

Addiction is impacting more people in northern Virginia and many of those struggling with drugs and alcohol are not getting help. 

More than 30 percent of adults in the region have a family member or friend experiencing addiction.

That's according to recently released data from Inova Health Systems.


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The numbers are concerning, and this year’s Act on Addiction campaign is focusing on sparking conversation and dialogue around the stigma of speaking out about addiction and most importantly seeking treatment for addiction.

Inova’s survey indicates a higher percentage — 39 percent of Millenials, 38 percent of Gen X, and 32 percent of Gen Z. While just 19 percent of Baby Boomers report having a family member or friend with addiction. 

The stigma surrounding addiction and the fear of judgment are the biggest factors preventing people from getting help.

Of those struggling with addiction, 59% of them feared what their family members may think of their addiction and 53 percent feared what their friends might think.

Dr. Marquitta Duvernay, Director of Recovery Services, Inova Health System told FOX 5 that "Loved ones can actually engage in dialog … conversation with their family members to look at what does the word stigma look like in terms of that family unit and identify ways in which they can adapt to or adjust to the environment."

"Some of those ways include identifying appropriate times and places to meet with their family member," she added. 

The results of Inova's newest survey indicate there’s a 30 percent increase compared to last year alone for people fearful about discussing their addiction with family or friends. The health organization says that's a noticeable increase from the 2021 survey, which showed that 25 percent of local adults reported knowing someone was hospitalized due to alcohol use or drug overdose.