Roanoke Valley Collective Response to combat opioid and addiction crisis gaining momentum

After reading “Dopesick” or hearing author Beth Macy speak about her latest best-selling book, many people are asking: What can we do now? Learn more about the community groundswell in support of a collective response to address the region’s opioid and addiction crisis.

The Roanoke Valley Collective Response is gaining momentum and will make a public announcement following local author Macy’s presentation at Virginia Western Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.

Representing months of conversations among people and organizations across the region, the Collective Response wants to clear pathways to healthy and sustainable living for those affected by substance use.

“Our goal is to unite organizations, foster collaboration, and raise awareness of available resources and partnership opportunities,” said Janine Underwood, Executive Director of Bradley Free Clinic and lead volunteer of the Roanoke Valley Hope Initiative. “This will not only impact individuals, but families, organizations, communities, regions, and beyond.”

The Collective Response draws on existing opioid task forces, community groups, and organizations working in fields that are impacted by and involved in addressing the opioid and addiction crisis in our community. (See detailed participant list below.)

“The hope is to let the community know what is already being done to address the crisis, and for our partners and others to own the issue and work together to find lasting solutions,” said Dr. Cheri Hartman. Hartman works with her husband Dr. David Hartman in the Carilion Clinic Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Medication Assisted Treatment program. She is also the current Chair of the Hope Initiative Board of Directors.

As a fundamental belief, Collective Response conveners ask each person, organization, community coalition and entity to OWN the issue of substance use and its direct impact on our quality of life. By doing that, they believe the coalition can inspire organizational and behavioral change.

The initial meeting brought together representatives of law enforcement, education, first responders, government administration, research, medical clinics, hospitals, behavioral health, elected officials, prevention, treatment, and recovery agencies across all jurisdictions.

“The impressive group that has already come together to form the Collective Response, and those who will continue to join us, are seeking a powerful jump start to how our community addresses this devastating epidemic in an immediate and meaningful way. The Collective Response seeks to truly reshape how our community responds to public health issues,” Dr. Hartman said.

Dr. Kimberly Horn, Associate Vice President of Clinical Research Collaboratives and Professor at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, helped the Collective Response kick off with the first community-wide meeting on Sept. 19.

Dr. Horn recently moved back to Roanoke and brings with her a great deal of experience in addiction research, outcomes-based collaborative work, and examples of coalitions that have worked in other communities to truly make an impact.

“We are aggressively working together across systems to ensure that individuals, families and communities always have a pathway back to healthy and sustainable living,” she said.

Goals of the Collective Response include:

  • Increasing the quality and capacity of substance use treatment in the region
  • Addressing the impact on employers seeking to fill jobs
  • Identifying gaps in services that slow response to individuals and caregivers
  • Generating new and strengthening current collaborations

More details on the Collective Response’s next steps will be announced in a panel discussion following Macy’s presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 in the College’s Whitman Theater.

Earlier on Sept. 26, representatives from the Collective Response will be available to the media at 10 a.m. in the Fishburn Hall Human Resource Training Room F02 at Virginia Western Community College, 3093 Colonial Ave. in Roanoke.

“Dopesick: A Call to Action” is sponsored by Virginia Western Community College and Family Service of Roanoke Valley. The event is sold out, with 250 tickets previously reserved; an overflow livestream viewing area will be available in the adjacent Fralin Center on campus. Only ticketed attendees will be admitted to the Whitman Theater presentation, with doors opening at 6 p.m. A book sale and author signing will follow the Collective Response panel discussion in the Campus Commons next to Whitman Theater.

“Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America” is the latest nonfiction bestseller by Roanoke-based journalist Beth Macy. Her previous books include the widely acclaimed “Factory Man” and “Truevine,” both set in Southwest Virginia and focusing on Macy’s frequent themes of outsiders and underdogs. “Dopesick” had its roots in a 2012 series in The Roanoke Times, where Macy was an award-winning reporter for more than 20 years.

For more information on the Collective Response, contact Janine Underwood at 540-344-5156.

Collective Response Key Stakeholders:

Prevention, Treatment, Recovery
Drug Task Force (Law Enforcement Summit)
Urgent Love
Prevention Council of Roanoke County
Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition
Roanoke Valley HOPE Initiative
Carilion Clinic – Psychiatry and Behavioral Science

Community Health Agencies
Carilion Clinic
– Task Force on Opioids
– Roanoke Memorial Hospital Emergency Department
– Hospice and Home Health Care
Lewis Gale Medical Center
Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
Blue Ridge Behavioral Health
Rescue Mission
Eagles Nest
Mount Regis Center
Council for Community Services Drop-In Center
Roanoke Health District-Virginia Department of Health
New Horizons Healthcare
Mental Health America
Bradley Free Clinic
Family Service of Roanoke Valley
American Addiction Centers
The Haven

Local Fire/EMS/Law Enforcement
Roanoke City
Roanoke County

Law Enforcement & Judicial
Office of the Attorney General
Roanoke City
Virginia State Police
Drug Court
Therapeutic Docket
Federal Magistrate Judge
Western Virginia Regional Jail

Roanoke City
Roanoke County
Elected Officials
Virginia House of Delegates, Delegate Sam Rasoul
United States Congress, Congressman Bob Goodlatte
Roanoke City Council, Vice Mayor Joe Cobb
Local School/ Administration
School Board
Director of Counseling

Community Coalitions
United Way of Roanoke Valley
Health Roanoke Valley
Faith Community
Celebrate Recovery
Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce

Other Resources
Dr. Robert Pack, East Tennessee State University College of Public Health
Beth Macy, Author “Dopesick”