WTVR: Federal stimulus funds can be used to combat opioid crisis


America’s other public health crisis, the opioid and drug epidemic, has only gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carey Colvin has experienced the heartbreak caused by this crisis firsthand.

In January of 2020, the Richmond-area mother found her daughter, Summer, dead from a drug overdose.

“When I found her, I can tell by the way she was positioned she didn’t know she died. It was so quick,” Colvin recalled. “She had a sparkle and I watched that sparkle dim the last year of her life.”

In 2016, Summer broke her neck in a car accident on I-95 in Richmond. When her prescription of Oxycodone ran out, she then turned to heroin.

“She knew what she was doing to us, but addiction doesn’t care,” Colvin said.

Virginia has seen a 40% increase in overdoses during the pandemic, according to Rep. Abigail Spanberger.

The Henrico Democrat led a bipartisan effort to help fix this crisis. Spanberger led a letter to U.S. Treasury Security Janet Yellen urging her to allow localities to use American Rescue Plan funds in the fight against addiction.

“I am pleased to say that in fact when the rule making came out there is significant flexibility,” Spanberger explained. “I’m quite excited that there is space for our communities to be really be able to make investments in prevention, treatment and recovery.”

Rep. David Trone (D – Maryland and Republican Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia also joined Spanberger in sending the letter.

Spanberger acknowledged that the drug epidemic spans across the nation and isn’t just limited to Central Virginia. She’s heard from law enforcement chiefs who have officers returning to help, at times, the same individuals during an overdose.

“They’ve been able to administer Narcan, are able to resuscitate someone, only to return back a short period of time later to find that same individual suffered a fatal overdose,” Spanberger said.

Colvin supports Spanberger’s push, and hopes localities can use the funds to provide more recovery resources for those addicted to opioids or drugs

“Summer was a firecracker, she was very vivacious, she loved to dance, she loved to sing, she loved music,” Colvin reminisced.

Even if Summer did survive her overdose in January, because of isolation, her mother believes she wouldn’t survive the pandemic.

“I know what she would want to say is, ‘please, get help,’” Colvin said.

If you or someone you know may need help with a drug addiction – you’re urged to call the National Substance Abuse Hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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