Free screening of ‘Chasing the Dragon’ on July 24: Panel discussion on addiction to follow

greater augusta wellness partnershipThe Greater Augusta Wellness Partnership is inviting the public to attend a free screening of the film “Chasing the Dragon” on Tuesday, July 24 at 6 p.m. at the Bridge Christian Church, 1275 Goose Creek Road in Fishersville. Following the film, Central Shenandoah Health District Director Dr. Laura Kornegay will moderate an expert panel discussion on the cycle of addiction. Refreshments will be provided by Project GROWS, Augusta Health and Mental Health America-Augusta.

“Chasing the Dragon” is a 45-minute documentary film that illustrates the tragic consequences of opioid abuse, through the stories of several individuals who abused opiates themselves or had family members who became addicts. The film also features interviews with medical and law enforcement professionals, who discuss the effects of addiction and describe how this epidemic is unlike any this country has seen before.

In November 2016, the Virginia State Health Commissioner declared the Virginia opioid crisis a public health emergency. The declaration came in response to the growing number of overdoses attributed to opioid abuse, and evidence that Carfentanil, a highly dangerous synthetic opioid used to sedate large animals such as elephants, has made its way into Virginia. There were 1,268 deaths in Virginia in 2016 caused by legal or illegal opioids, and drug overdose now kills more people in Virginia and nationally than guns, motor vehicle accidents or falls.

Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro recorded five deaths in 2016 due to opioid overdose. The region has seen an increase in rates of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (drug withdrawal symptoms in infants due to maternal drug use), as well as an increase in rates of Hepatitis C (which can be a complication of intravenous drug use). While the local area has not been as severely affected by the opioid epidemic as other parts of the state, the opioid epidemic does bring attention to the disease of addiction, which can involve a variety of substances, including opioids, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol.

The most recent Community Health Needs Assessment in 2017 showed that behavioral health and substance use disorders were some of the top health concerns for the area. The Greater Augusta Wellness Partnership hopes that this community film screening and panel discussion will help to bring a better understanding of the disease of addiction and remove the stigma associated with this disease.

For more information, see the movie trailer here or contact Dr. Laura Kornegay, director, Central Shenandoah Health District at 540-332-7830.

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