Opioid overdoses climbing, Public Health Emergency declared for Virginia

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FAIRFAX, Va. -- Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has declared the exponentially growing number of people dying from opioid abuse, a state of public health emergency.

A public health emergency is an event, either natural or manmade, that creates a health risk to the public and the administration feels there is a current threat to Virginia communities and the economy.

McAuliffe said the declaration came from the State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine.

According to Levine, the problem is so bad, by the end of 2016, fatal opioid overdoses are expected to increase by 77% compared to five years ago.

Levine also said, statistics show more people in Virginia are dying from opioid overdoses, than car accidents.

State officials said some addicts are even getting their hands on an elephant tranquilizer that is 10,000 times stronger than morphine.

Dr. Levine has issued a standing order that allows all Virginians to obtain the drug Naloxone without a prescription.  Naloxone can be used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergency situations.

“With a statewide order, every pharmacy will have that capability and any individual can walk in and get the naloxone,” explained Levine.