On February 23, 2017, the 4th anniversary of Christopher's death, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law a bill that allows community outreach organizations to dispense naloxone to people in need. This will be a crucial step in serving the most at-risk populations who can't go to a pharmacy or are afraid to due to the stigma placed on addiction.
Also signed that day was a bill to create a needle exchange program in areas of the state most impacted by the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV and two other bills aimed at addressing the opioid crisis.
“We recognize that addiction is a disease, not a moral failing, and our proposals for this General Assembly session focused on preventing addiction and providing treatment for those who suffer from it. While our overdose death statistics, sadly, continue to rise, each number represents a family that is suffering. We will use every tool we can get to continue this fight,” said Governor McAuliffe.
Although final numbers are not yet available, the Virginia Department of Health projects that more than 1,000 people died from fatal opioid overdoses in 2016. If those projections hold, 2016 will have seen a 33 percent increase in the number of fatal opioid overdoses compared to 2015.
There is much work to be done, but this is much needed progress! Thank you to all who helped get this through. Your efforts will undoubtedly save lives.