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Press Release

Law Enforcement, Schools, Substance Abuse Coalition Come Together to Talk Opioid Solutions

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia

WINCHESTER, VIRGINIA – Leaders from the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition, area schools, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the United States Attorney’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies, got together this week at James Wood Middle School to discuss the role of prevention education in combatting opioid abuse. The “Building a Barrier: Community Partnerships in Preventing Opioid Abuse” program hopes to expand the region’s collaboration in reaching children at risk for drug abuse.


Wednesday night’s meeting included a viewing of the film Chasing the Dragon, a documentary that looks at the life of an opiate addict. Following the film was a brief presentation by the Drug Enforcement Administration about “Operation Prevention,” a collection of classroom resources and parent toolkits designed to educate students about the dangers of drug abuse. Finally, the program ended with a panel discussion on the intersections of drug abuse and risk factors in our communities, and what each of us can do to prevent children from becoming addicted to opiates as they confront the challenges of young adulthood.


The panel discussion featured Lauren Cummings of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition, Judge Beth Kellas from Winchester/Frederick Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Leslie Stewart of CLEAN, Tim May of Northwestern Community Services Board and Judy McKiernan of Winchester City Schools.


“Addiction to opioids knows no boundaries – it attacks all genders, races, socioeconomic groups, neighborhoods, and communities,” Acting United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle said today. “Meetings like this have nothing to do with identifying an opioid problem in a particular community-the fact of the matter is that opioids and opioid abuse are everywhere, it’s a nationwide problem. The purpose of these types of meetings is to determine the best way to give our children the true facts about opioid addiction so that they can make life-saving decisions when they inevitably encounter opioids at school, work, and play as adults. We want to make sure everyone has accurate information so school leaders, parents and students can make informed decisions using facts, not misinformation picked up on the street.”


“Our communities have been significantly impacted by addiction and along with developing programs to help those in the throes of addiction, we must focus on prevention. Education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of substance use. Teachers, parents, health care providers, and community members have crucial roles in educating young people to prevent drug use and addiction,” said NSVSAC Executive Director Lauren Cummings.

“Sadly, the Northern Shenandoah Valley joins a growing numbers of regions across the nation suffering from the current Heroin and Opioid pandemic. We cannot overemphasize the importance of combining state, local and federal resources to mitigate damaged lives, neighborhoods and communities such as the Northern Shenandoah Valley region.” Said DEA Special Agent in Charge, Karl C. Colder. “In response, the DEA and its partners have established an Initiative called the 360 Strategy. One of the main components of this campaign focuses on the importance of education for children, educators and indeed, all first responders. The heroin and opioid crisis has taught us kills everywhere and executes with deadly instantaneous force.”

Updated March 31, 2017