Chesterfield aims to combat alarming heroin overdose rate through new PSA

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — In Chesterfield County, heroin overdoses are rising at an alarming rate. It’s why officials there are hoping to raise awareness through a powerful new PSA.

Last year, police investigated 177 heroin overdoses in Chesterfield; 37 of those people died. It’s a 74 percent increase from the prior year and a roughly 230 percent increase in overdoses from 2014.

The numbers keep going up, but county leaders don’t think the community is getting the message, which is why they created this new PSA.

“Seeing them trying to revive someone that’s suffering a heroin overdose was difficult for me to watch, but it’s the reality,” parent Tracy Grow said. “It is what’s happening, it is what happened.”

Grow lost her son, Taylor, to a heroin overdose last October. The Chesterfield parent says while dealing with her son’s addiction she didn’t know what resources were available or where to turn. It’s something Chesterfield is trying to fix with the PSA.

“I think what Chesterfield County’s doing is amazing,” Grow said.

“We found people as early as nine years old who have used heroin, and that’s scary,” Chesterfield County Sheriff Karl Leonard said.

Sheriff Leonard, who created a heroin addiction recovery program at his jail, helped, along with organizations across the country, to create the PSA.

“Just to let them know that they’re not in this alone, that there are resources they call and go to, to try and get the help they need,” Leonard said.

One of the actors in the video is not an actor at all.

“I’m 25 years old and I just feel like I have this very innocent look and, like, you would never look at me and say that’s a heroin addict,” recovering addict Libby Bell said.

Bell has been addicted to heroin for three years.

“I went to VCU for three years and because of my addiction I did not graduate,” said Bell.

She says she did the PSA in hopes people, especially parents, take addiction seriously before it becomes a problem.

“For parents not to be so naive and gullible,” Bell said.

Those affected say it will take a community effort.

“It’s not just going to be one organization or one person, we definitely need everybody on board,” Grow said.

Since her son’s death, Grow has created a group for family members who have lost loved ones to addiction.

For information about substance abuse services available in Chesterfield County, visit ChesterfieldSafe.org.

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