Roanoke County Public Schools has kicked off a series of meetings discussing heroin and opioid addiction.
Law enforcement officials, school leaders and those with personal stories spoke to parents and students Monday night at Hidden Valley High School to educate the community about the problem and how people can try to prevent it.
According to school officials, this is the first time the district is hosting a series of meetings like this one.
For some at Monday night’s meeting, the topic is personal.
“I’ve watched family members, I’ve watched close acquaintances, I’ve watched very good friends, people just battle with this addiction,” said Ashley Haynes, an alum of Hidden Valley High School.
As a volunteer with the Prevention Council of Roanoke County, Haynes said she wants to empower those battling drug addiction to ask for help and encourage parents to do what they can to prevent the problem.
“A lot of people I think for a long time have not really spoken about it, and…over the last couple of years I’ve recognized a lot of families starting to come forward,” Haynes said.
“In my experience as a counselor, I will say that the drugs are a problem just in general in the community,” said Taisha Steele, school counseling coordinator for Roanoke County Public Schools.
Steele said the school district wants to be proactive in preventing drug use, especially following the governor’s declaration that opioid abuse is a public health emergency in Virginia.
“Not in our valley, not in our community,” Steele said. “What can we do to bring prevention, awareness and also break the stigma that’s associated with addiction?”
“Every time I turn around, especially over the last ten years, it seems like someone else is dying from an overdose,” Haynes said. “It keeps happening, and I just want to help put a stop to it.”
Meetings are being held over the next few days at each of the district’s five high schools. For a complete schedule, click here.