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Richmond fatal drug overdoses jump 150% over last year

Richmond is dealing with a drug overdose crisis, and has been since at least 2007.
Richmond is dealing with a drug overdose crisis, and has been since at least 2007.(DrugAbuse.com)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 2:32 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond is dealing with a drug overdose crisis and has been since at least 2007. And in the past year, deadly overdoses have skyrocketed by 150%.

In 2019, there were 60 fatal opioid overdoses reported in Richmond. In 2020, that figure increased to 155 fatal opioid overdoses.

“They are taking it in large amounts and it’s killing people. It’s truly killing people and it’s a concern for everybody,” said Capt. Ronnie Armstead, Richmond Police Dept.

Richmond police have taken to social media to shine a light on the struggle with a video about the crisis. Non-fatal overdoses are also on the rise in Richmond, jumping 50% between 2019 and 2020.

City health officials say they are seeing the same story over and over where someone gets hooked on pain killers, then it turns into heroin or Fentanyl, which is a drug that can easily cause an overdose. The pandemic is also playing its part by taking away important personal connections.

“You take that away and we’re left with our own thoughts, traumas, depressions and that makes it more difficult to maintain your sobriety,” said Courtney Nunnally, RHHD peer recovery specialist.

Eight years clean and not looking back, Courtney Nunnally knows firsthand the dangers of a drug overdose.

“At least it’s not heroin, you know? I’m not out running the streets and getting heroin. Until it was heroin. And that’s when things changed drastically,” said Nunnally.

Now, she’s a peer recovery specialist with Richmond Health. The health department working with police and others to follow up on overdose calls, even hitting the streets to reach people struggling and stopping them from becoming the next statistic in this fight.

“It’s tough, but you know if we can help one person, we’re helping more than we’re going to help before,” said Nunnally.

Police and health officials are begging members of the public to have someone nearby trained to use Narcan if they choose to use.

Those suffering from addiction can find resources from RHHD at this link.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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