It can happen to you. That’s the message a recovering drug addict hopes to get out.
Brian Smith is from Fauquier County where they are in the midst of a heroin epidemic, according to county leaders.
“A lot of people think that heroin and pills and opioids only happen to certain people. You know, people with broken homes and stuff like that … drugs don’t discriminate,” says the 31-year-old pastor’s son and Fauquier County inmate.
Smith says his road to addiction started when a friend gave him a handful of pills at around 11 or 12-years-old. Needing a stronger high, he turned to the needle at around 17-years-old.
The drug has become such a problem that the county sheriff's office got the opiate antidote Naloxone, known as “Narcan”, on March 15. Not even two weeks later, 28-year-old Deputy John Coppage became the first officer to use it in the county when he saved a woman's life.
“I’ve seen it done before, but always by our medics. To administer it yourself and see it work is surprising,” said Deputy Coppage.
“I knew it was only a matter of time,” Sheriff Robert P. Mosier told WUSA9.
The sheriff says just this year alone the county’s already seen four heroin-related deaths. That’s more than half of what Loudoun County saw last year, according to preliminary results.
The problem? Loudoun County is five times more populated than Fauquier County, and yet Fauquier’s numbers are just as high.
The Fauquier Sheriff’s Office says last year saw 20 overdoses with four heroin deaths, 2014 saw 18 overdoses with three heroin deaths. The numbers, along with the rest of the country, are on the rise. In Virginia last year, legislators say the number of overdose deaths surpassed that of fatal car crashes.
“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this,” says the sheriff, who tells WUSA9 everyone from schools to churches will need to be involved.
When he was at the height of his addiction, Smith called it the “epitome of selfishness.”
“The only thing you have on your mind is damage control and getting that next fix ‘cause you can’t function. You can’t go on throughout your day without your next shot or your next bump,” Smith said.
That need sent him an hour away to D.C., where Smith says he got his fix and crashed both his and his parents’ cars in the span of just a few days because he overdosed behind the wheel. Now he’s fighting to stay clean and help other addicts fight their demons.
Smith tells WUSA9 he sees Narcan as hope. He hopes others will realize they need help, like him, and turn around to both help themselves and others.
“Who better to help these people than a recovered drug addict?” Smith says, “ ‘Cause you have to figure, knowledge is power, experience is power and we can reach people.”
Smith says many parents are enablers when they give kids allowances or when they are in denial and refuse to discuss the topic with their children.