CVARR held its annual Walk for Recovery on September 14th, 2023, at Miller Park in Lynchburg. The event was well-attended, with over 200 people present to celebrate and support those in recovery from substance use disorders. Attendees had the opportunity to speak with a variety of vendors about available services and programs. The event also featured a fantastic cookout and lawn games, with food generously donated by BrightView. Our attendees were inspired by the speeches, and we also had the privilege of presenting the first “Recovery Ally Awards.” As the sun set, we concluded the evening with an honorary walk around the park, making it an unforgettable and successful experience enjoyed by all.
H.Y.P.E. Club Campaign
Did you know that 1 in 5 youth struggle with mental health challenges? The Healthy Youth through Prevention and Education (H.Y.P.E.) Club is speaking up about what youth need when it comes to mental health support and substance use prevention. Last week, youth members of the HYPE Club placed yard signs at Lynchburg City Schools and local area parks that encourage adults to “Talk to Us, Listen to Us, and Show Us You Care”.
Often, youth who are struggling with mental health challenges turn to tobacco, alcohol, or other substances in order to cope. That’s why the HYPE Club is asking parents and other caring adults to get help for youth who need it. They want us to know that their future depends on it!
The HYPE Club is one of the CVARR Coalition’s prevention strategies that seeks to provide information to middle and high school students and increase their understanding of the risks of substance use. Check out the signs around town and help by spreading awareness of this campaign!
The safety and well-being of our community are always of utmost importance, which is why Horizon Behavioral Health and the Central Virginia Health District have partnered to recognize the second annual National Fentanyl Awareness Day. They are doing their part to raise public awareness about an urgent problem: people are dying at alarming rates due to illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF), a potent synthetic opioid.
We at CVARR encourage community members to take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the risks of fentanyl and how you could save a life in the event of fentanyl poisoning. We also invite you to take action today to help spread the word about our free Virtual Opioid Overdose Response Trainings by inviting family, friends, and colleagues, as well as sharing our Facebook post on your social media!
Welcome to Our New Coalition Coordinator!
Hi everyone! My name is Teegan Deuso and I would like to introduce myself! I have served as a school counselor for 10 years and had the privilege of serving as program coordinator for Franklin County Caring Communities, a Vermont non-profit focused on substance use prevention. While working in this capacity, I experienced the power of strategic prevention and increased access to treatment as I built a thriving, impactful, dynamic, and data-driven program in my school and greater community. Through the thoughtful writing and management of multiple prevention grants and the coordination of projects such Teen Institute, Sticker Shock, Peer Support, and Community Dialogue Nights, my goal was to break down individual organizational silos, empower youth to make healthy choices for their own well-being, and create safe environments where connection can thrive, and addiction can be prevented.
Additionally, I have written and advocated for school substance use policy change with one goal in mind: ensuring youth access to substance use education and treatment. Through strong restorative-style processes, we saved students with disabilities and substance use addiction from expulsion and connected them to treatment. This work is a true highlight of my career. ￼
As I settle into the CVARR Coalition Coordinator role, I hope to support the current work of CVARR by helping to identify needs, build capacity, plan strategically, and implement resources creatively. I hope to further engage the Lynchburg community and Virginia state leaders to focus on policies supporting prevention, treatment, and recovery. These can be challenging issues, but together, we can create a healthy, safe, and thriving community for all. If you are interested in hearing more about the work CVARR is engaging in, I would love to chat with you!
CVARR in the Community – Drug Take Back Day
For the past few years we have had the opportunity to partner with Horizon Behavioral Health as well as local sheriff and police departments to host several locations for National Drug Take Back Day. This year we were able to collect 267.4 pounds from the counties and cities of Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, Campbell and Lynchburg. One of our current active members of our Recovery Workgroup, Carl Mack, was highlighted in the local news for AltaVista. Take a look at this article about the community, CVARR and some more information about the events that happened at Drug Take Back Day.
CVARR Member Highlight – Ashley
Ashley, a current active member of the CVARR Coalition, was recently highlighted in local news article on her successes with recovery and her journey through drug court. Ashley currently works as a Peer Recovery Specialist for the organization Blue Ridge Behavioral Health and has been a vital player in our coalition and in the recovery workgroup.
In February 2019, Ashley lost custody of her son as a result of substance abuse and he was sent to live with his grandmother. Ashley was granted supervised visits but could only have full custody once she was able to get sober. For 3 months, Ashley continued to use and abuse different substances until finally she realized that she was not going to regain custody of her son or life unless she could commit to sober living. Ashley committed to sobriety and signed up to become part of a local drug treatment court program to help her regain control of her life.
With the intensive setting drug court gave her, Ashley was able to work to move into recovery from substance abuse. Ashley credits her recovery to both drug court and peer support which in turn has guided her towards her career choice with for Blue Ridge Behavioral Health. Ashley has taken her experiences and now uses her life story to inspire and assist others in their own personal journeys to recovery. Ashley has come to CVARR and has provided us with a wealth of understanding of experiences as well as a resource of knowledge of the community. We are so thankful for Ashley and her continued support and commitment to CVARR, we are lucky to call her a part of our team.
Please find link below for full article on Ashley’s Story and her journey to regain custody of her son and control of her life.
CVARR Launches Into 2020!
With 2020 underway, the Lynchburg Region is stepping up to answer the call for community wide collaboration on substance use prevention, treatment and recovery efforts.
On Thursday, January 16th, 2020, Central Virginia Addiction and Recovery Resources came together to celebrate their official launch and recognize innovative leaders in our community who have inspired immeasurable impact in the formation and establishment of such a robust community network. Dozens of community members from many sectors of the region such as business owners and service providers to citizens and passionate youth joined CVARR to celebrate their recent success in foundational community building and support the bright future that lies ahead for this innovative group of community activists!
A visionary award was presented to Tom Seaman in recognition of his visionary guidance & steadfast leadership in the creation of Ce in 2017. Anne Bond-Gentry from Lynchburg City Schools was recognized as an outstanding Community Champion in acknowledgment of her dedicated commitment to coalition efforts. An outstanding business award was presented to OrthoVirginia in recognition of their outstanding contribution & impactful partnership in the coalitions efforts to secure the Federal Drug Free Communities Grant in recent months. Mandy Cocke, who received the award on behalf of OrthoVirginia commented, “CVARR is evidence of the true collaborative efforts of our community. It’s been an amazing experience to work with such talented individuals coming together to make Lynchburg a better place for prevention, treatment and recovery.”
Joined by Nancy Hans, the Executive Director of the Prevention Council of Roanoke County, and Keith Cartwright with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the coalition discussed the power of collaboration and shared an inspiring message on understanding the root of addiction.
By focusing their efforts on prevention, treatment and recovery, CVARR and its members have resolved to rise and face the burden substance use has placed on our family members, neighbors, and overall community. Rhonda Turner, Treatment Lead for CVARR stated “After 25 year of working in the field this is the first time I’ve seen a group of this size come together to make a difference. Not only are we making a difference in the Lynchburg community, we’re having an impact across the state.” She is echoed by Secretary Dan Carey, or the Dept. of Health and Human Services, who said in a recent Town Hall Meeting “The work being accomplished here has really become a model for other parts of Virginia.”
CVARR’s current 14 partnering organizations and 52 members of diverse backgrounds and experience have come together to advance the vision of CVARR: to create a safe and healthier community for all. With community, state, and Federal support, CVARR is positioned to become a leading health resource for our area in 2020.
December Town Hall Meeting
On December 22, 2019, Central Virginia’s leading advocates for substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery sat down with Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Dr. Dan Carey, to discuss the progress and future of resources and services developed to address the opioid epidemic right here in the heart of Virginia. CVARR Members Brent McCraw, James Stewart of Up with the Recovery, Mandy Cocke of OrthoVirginia, Januwaa Davis of Horizon Behavioral Health, Daniel Black of the Lynchburg Police Department represent their respective premier service providers to discuss what is available to community members seeking prevention, treatment, or recovery from substance use challenges and the disease of addiction. Dr. Carey highlights that “The work being accomplished here has really become a model for other parts of Virginia.” Click the link to watch the full town hall meeting, covered by WSET News, to learn more about the hope and help that is available in the Central Virginia Region.
- Opioid Town Hall Meeting, covered by WSET News
Virginia’s First Medication Assisted Recovery Support Group, M.A.R.A.
12-Step recovery programs continue to evolve into new support groups that can accommodate the specific needs of its members. Many 12-Step groups promote total abstinence from any mind-altering drugs. As a result, many Addicts and alcoholics that are using medication to aid in their recovery process are left feeling unwelcomed in their support groups. This includes individuals receiving Medicine-Assisted Therapy to aid the early stages of recovery/sobriety who have been unable to stop using drugs on their own. Part of being in a support group is being around people that can celebrate the similarities and advocate for each other through the difficulties of staying sober. In response to a common, rising need identified in a Central Virginia Addiction and Recovery Resources (CVARR) Meeting, a 12-step Recovery Group, M.A.R.A., has been created in the Lynchburg area. This formal meeting is the very first of its kind across the entire state of Virginia and its development was spearheaded by the Lynchburg Health Department through the committed work of their Peer Support Specialists. This newfound program supports MAT (medication assisted treatment) but exists to encourage members to stay clear of illicit drugs, un-prescribed drugs, and alcohol since that can lead them back to the throes of addiction. “We are excited to be able to bring the first MARA endorsed group to the state of Virginia,” said Carl Mack, Registered Peer Recovery Specialist. “The Central Virginia Health District leadership is pleased to be able to provide an innovative response to the needs identified in this area.” Mr. Mack added, “I have received that same sentiment from many of the area’s MAT providers. Everyone is different in how they will achieve their sobriety. However, OUR WAY will strive to come together based on unity in sobriety and MARA will continue to give many that chance to experience freedom from the disease of addiction.
DisposeRX: First Pilot Program of It’s Kind in Central Virginia
History is in the making right here in Lynchburg Virginia. Centra Health and Horizon Behavioral Health partnered together back in August of 2019 to roll out the first program of it’s kind. The program, funded by a state grant awarded to Horizon for opioid response initiatives, provided prescription disposal packs to all patients in Surgical and Labor/Delivery Departments of Centra Hospital. In an interview with WSET, Shannon Miles, a founder of CVARR, reveals studies that show anywhere from 60-90% of opioids go unused after surgery and often not properly disposed of leading to increased community risk for overdose. “So say you are having pain in your back and you go get your grandmother’s opioid medication she had left over from her surgery,” Miles explained. “You’re not sure of the dose, your opioid naive and you take a 10 or 15 gram opioid. You could reduce your respiration and that could lead to an overdose (Miles).”
The pilot program ensures that every patient is provided a DisposeRX packet and education on safe medication disposal upon discharge. Horizon supported the pilot program for 3 months, upon which time the program’s success was evaluated. The outcomes of the program proved highly successful in it’s efforts to prevent both intentional and unintentional overdoses among discharge patients. Following the success of the pilot, Centra is now proudly implementing the program across their entire HealthCare System. Every patient who is discharged with an opioid prescription now leaves the hospital having been educated on safe disposal and provided a DisposeRX packet.
CVARR Selected as 2019 DFC Grant Recipient
The excitement circling prevention, treatment, and recovery communities across Central Virginia is practically tangible since release of the grand news: Central Virginia Addiction and Recovery Resources has been selected as the only coalition to receive the federal Drug Free Communities (DFC) Grant across the state of Virginia for 2019!
As the single recipient of the highly competitive DFC Grant across Virginia in 2019, CVARR is entrusted with the responsibility of federal funds amounting to $125,000 each your for up to 10 years to address the emerging drug trends in our region, such as methamphetamine, prescription drug misuse and synthetic drug use, specifically among our region’s youth population. As a nationally recognized and federally funded community coalition, CVARR is confident in the pursuit of our mission and ready to rise to the challenge of this coming years’ goals and objectives for prevention, treatment and recovery. See what our Coalition had to say in an WSET interview about receival of the grant on October 30th, 2019.
National Drug Take-Back Day!
On Saturday, October 26th, 2019, Horizon Behavioral Health in collaboration with the regional Police Departments of Appomattox, Amherst, and Lynchburg hosted National Drug Take Back Day in three locations across the Central Virginia region.
“The National prescription Drug Take Back Day addresses a crucial public safety and public health issue. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.” -Drug Enforcement Administration
From 10:00am-2:00pm, citizens came from all around to help reduce the risk of substance use by properly disposing of their expired or no longer needed prescription medications. Horizon provided free materials across all locations such as medication lock boxes, trigger locks, and a plethora of medication-related educational materials. Following the event, the medication collection was weighed and amounted to hundreds of pounds of drugs no longer at risk for circulating in our community! Each county collected the following:
- Appomattox collected 92lbs of medication.
- Amherst collected 50lbs of medication.
- Lynchburg collected 108lbs medication.
More information regarding the event was reported by WSET with personal interviews from citizens, police officers and Horizon professionals involved in the local drug take-back efforts! Drug take back day is held twice a year, in October and April. The date of the April 2020 event has not yet been announced.
Lynchburg Drug Court
Graduation Ceremony for Pilot Program
On Wednesday, August 9, 2019, the first graduating class of five individuals have celebrated being substance free for 2 years after pleading guilty to a probation violation. This graduating class represents the first drug court docket of the 24th Judicial District. Based on the success of the Lynchburg program, the countries of Amherst, Appomattox, Campbell, and Nelson have discussed the adoption of their own Drug Court programs with Bedford having recently adopted the second Drug Court for our District. The Lynchburg Drug Court Advisory Committee is proud to report that we are now seeking $65,000 of state funding to continue the program in addition to the seed money left over from the pilot program.
The members of CVARR would like to congratulate our regions graduates and their families for their admirable accomplishment, encourage existing members of the Lynchburg Drug Court program, and pay a special thanks to our community’s attorneys, service providers, court officials, and other criminal justice officials for their dedication to this program!
For more information on the Lynchburg Drug Court, kindly visit The News & Advance