PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Opioid overdoses continue to rise across the country and here at home, with a 15% increase in opioid-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the CDC.

Now, cities are fighting back, and it’s no different in Hampton Roads.

“We recognize that even during COVID, and after COVID, we still struggle, and most municipalities do,” said Portsmouth mayor Shannon Glover. “It’s a national problem.”

Portsmouth is striving to get ahead of it.

On Tuesday, the city’s Behavioral Healthcare Services center received a $294,852 grant from the state of Virginia to go directly toward opioid misuse, treatment and recovery services.

“One of the programs that we have at Portsmouth Behavioral Healthcare Services is our medication assistance treatment program where we provide Methadone as well as Suboxone coupled with counseling, therapy and case management services,” said Dr. Nathan Woodard, director of the city’s Behavioral Healthcare Services.

A multifaceted effort, Woodard said, is essential for helping those battling addiction. The grant enables health services to continue helping those in need.

“We continue to see the same issues with persons experimenting and using and deaths and different age groups,” Woodard said.

Glover said the goal is to continue to be on the front end of addiction.

“We recognize that we need to continue to be on the front end of ensuring that our citizens who are struggling with opioid addiction have the resources in order for them to ultimately recover and become productive citizens,” Glover explained.

Woodard’s message, recovery is possible.

“There is help,” Woodard said, “and if you need help, don’t hesitate to contact us.”

Portsmouth Behavioral Healthcare Services is hosting a public forum at its King Street location. The forum will be held at 6 p.m. Sept. 19. City leaders want to hear your thoughts on the opioid epidemic.