This report gathers information from the Virginia Department of Health, Sentara Medical services, Harrisonburg Community Services Board, JMU IHHS, DEA, and the RUSH Drug Task Force to illustrate drug use trends among youth and overdoses in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham area.

2016 Harrisonburg-Rockingham Needs Assessment Reports from CSB

  • Department of Social Services reported an increase in number of families which both parents and children smoke marijuana together (Haden 31).
  • 2006-2009 had 102 juvenile arrests for “prohibited criminal gang and street participation”, and this increase may be associated with marijuana use (Haden 31).
  • Harrisonburg police officers note that prescription drug use and distribution has gone up with the potential for kids to profit off stolen prescriptions (Haden 31).
  • CSB indicates that Alcohol, Tobacco, and Marijuana are substances that have the biggest threat in the Harrisonburg Area (Haden 31).

2017 Youth Data Survey for 8th Grade, 10th Grade, and 12th Grade, Harrisonburg City – JMU Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services

  • Harrisonburg Rockingham youth illicit drug use is slightly higher than national average for weekly and annual use (Rea)
  • Decreases in drug use frequency since 2017 excluding daily consumption (Rea).
  • Those who participate in sports clubs, church, and community activities are less likely to use marijuana (Rea).
  • There has been an increase for 10th and 12th graders access to marijuana. Marijuana remains the most used illicit substance for youth and yet its usage has decreased along with every other drugs except inhalants since 2015 (Rea).

RUSH Drug Task Force 2016

  • In first half of 2016 alone, RUSH Drug Task Force seized 812.7 grams of heroin as far surpassing 2015’s entire heroin seizure total of 55-60 grams (Caler).
  • However, in the first half of 2016, methamphetamine surpassed heroin in weight with 1500 grams seized (Caler).

DEA 2018 National Drug Threat Assessment

  • “Controlled prescription drugs remain responsible for the largest number of overdose deaths of any illicit drug class since 2001. These drugs are the second most commonly abused substance. Traffickers are now disguising other opioids as controlled prescription drugs to gain access to this market. (United 1-10)”
  • “Of all opioids, the abuse of illicit fentanyl and other synthetic opioids has led to the greatest number of deaths in the United States. Fentanyl is increasingly available in the form of counterfeit prescription pills marketed for illicit street sales, and also sold by traffickers on its own, without the presence of other drugs. (United 21-37)”

Virginia Department of Health Office of the Chief Medical Examiner Fatal Drug Overdose Quarterly Report, 1st Quarter 2018

  • Lethal cocaine overdoses have been steadily rising in Virginia since 2013. From 2007-2015 this was prominently due to cocaine being either the only contributor to death or with a mixture of heroin, prescription opioids, or a BAC level over the legal limit. In the year from 2016-2017, fentanyl with cocaine contributed to over half the lethal cocaine overdoses (Hobron 13).
  • The increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses in the state correlates to fatal heroin overdoses. However the source of fentanyl for these deaths have changes. Pre-2013, the abuse of pharmaceutical fentanyl constituted a majority of statewide fatal overdoses. After 2013, police toxicology testing revealed that illegally manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogues contributed to a majority of the deaths (Hobron 16).
  • After 2014, fatal methamphetamine overdoses have began to increase, however like these other substances, a mix of substances made up most of the fatal overdoses. From 2007-2016 prescription opioids played a role in 28.3% of fatal methamphetamine overdoses, fentanyl 17.9%, and/or heroin 14.5% (Hobron 24). Most of these fatal methamphetamine overdoses in Virginia occured in Northwestern and Southwestern VIrginia. (Hobron 26).

Information from Virginia Department of Health

References