VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – Theresa Newman and James Patterson walk the frontlines of the fight against the opioid epidemic everyday as counselors with the Virginia Beach Department of Human Services.
“There have been a tremendous number of deaths in Virginia Beach from opioids,” Newman said.
“I’ve seen it from Park Avenue to the park bench,” Patterson said. “We’re all affected.”
James won his own personal battle with addiction 21 years ago. He uses his experience to help others, but he wants more soldiers to join the growing fight.
“It’s now – the time is now,” Patterson said. “We can no longer keep turning our heads to it and sweeping it under the rug.”
The city is going to rally residents together at the Virginia Beach Convention Center for a town hall meeting Aug. 31. They’re also holding a series of listening sessions to get feedback on how residents feel the city can best use opioid abatement funds which have been allocated to the city of Virginia Beach from settlements with prescription opioid manufacturers and distributors.
“The city has programs in place but we need more people involved,” Patterson told WAVY.
Newman said the initial payment received was $1.7 million, and the city will continue to receive about $350,000 each year for the next decade.
“We want to hear from everybody so definitely people who have been personally impacted the people who have found they’ve developed addictions to opioids, their family members but also the general public,” Newman said.
Residents are invited to share their thoughts, concerns, and needs regarding the opioid epidemic at any of the following sessions:
- Monday, Aug. 14, 9 a.m. (Districts 2 & 5), Kellam High School, 2665 W. Neck Road
- Thursday, Aug. 31, 11 a.m., Virginia Beach Convention Center, 1000 19th St. Virtual and In-Person: Lunch provided. Limited seating and registration required. Register to attend or watch the livestream at SpeakUpVB.com/opioid-response.
- Thursday, Sept. 7, 2 p.m. (Districts 6 & 8), Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd.
- Wednesday, Sept. 13, 3:30 p.m. (Districts 4 & 9), Williams Farm Recreation Center, 5252 Learning Circle
- Monday, Sept. 18, 6:30 p.m. (Districts 1 & 7), Fairfield Elementary School, 5428 Providence Road
- Thursday, Sept. 21, 6:30 p.m.(Districts 3 & 10), Kempsville High School, 5194 Chief Trail
- Wednesday, Sept. 27, 4 p.m., Virtual Town Hall: Watch the livestream at SpeakUpVB.com/opioid-response.