The Opioid Epidemic in Norfolk and Virginia
The opioid addiction and overdose crisis has deeply affected Norfolk and all of Virginia, where 1,536 people lost their lives to an opioid overdose in 2017. Many of those overdoses involved fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid. Additionally, heroin claimed 556 lives in Virginia in 2017, a substantial increase from the 121 heroin-related deaths which occurred in the state in 2012.
As healthcare providers in Virginia prescribe fewer opioid painkillers, the number of deaths in Virginia which involve prescription opioids has generally held stable from 2012 to 2017. The rate of opioid-related fatalities in Virginia largely mirrors the opioid-related fatality rate for the United States as a whole. As the number of fatal drug overdoses declined moderately in 2018, so too did the number in Virginia. In 2018, 1,484 Virginians suffered a fatal opioid overdose, a 3.4% decrease from the previous year.
In Norfolk and Hampton Roads, 2,393 residents have died as a result of a drug overdose since 2007. Over 80% of the overdoses involved at least one opioid. The worst year for Norfolk and Hampton Roads was 2016, when opioids and other drugs claimed the lives of 379 people. According to the Virginia Department of Health, the number of drug-related fatalities in the area declined slightly in 2018 to 311. Of these fatalities, opioids caused 262, and Norfolk suffered 60, a 9% decline from the 65 fatal overdoses the city suffered in 2017.
To combat the opioid epidemic, police in Norfolk and Hampton Roads now carry naloxone, a medication which reverses the effects of opioid overdoses. The Norfolk municipal government has also joined other Virginia cities in lawsuits against opioids manufacturers. Even still, the opioid crisis remains a major challenge for Norfolk. The Virginia chief medical examiner recently projected that the number of fatal overdoses which Virginia suffered in 2019 will surpass the 2018 number by about 4%, mostly as a result of heroin and cocaine adulterated with fentanyl.
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Drug Trafficking in Norfolk
The opioid epidemic is a criminal issue as much as a public health issue, and law enforcement in Hampton Roads works diligently to confiscate narcotics supplies and arrest drug traffickers. In 2019, the police arrested thirty-five members of an extensive conspiracy in Norfolk to import heroin and fentanyl into Virginia. According to the DEA, the drug supply had the potential to kill 14 million people.
In addition to opioids, the Norfolk community faces challenges with other drugs as well. In 2020, the Coast Guard seized over two thousand pounds of cocaine from a ship docked in Newport News, a city in Hampton Roads which neighbors Norfolk. The cocaine supply had was worth at least $42 million. Drug traffickers often use Hampton Roads, a major coastal region, as a destination for cocaine shipments from South America.
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If you or someone you know in Norfolk is struggling with addictions to drugs or alcohol, today is the day to seek help. An inpatient or outpatient treatment program at a rehab center can make a tremendous difference in anyone’s life. Please contact a dedicated treatment professional today to get answers to your questions about rehabs and learn more about your options for treatment.