Valley coalition receives $1 million grant to fight opioid epidemic

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SHENANDOAH VALLEY, Va. (WHSV) — Last week, an organization in the valley aimed at fighting opioid abuse in Virginia received a $1 million grant from CVS Health.

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition is comprised of law enforcement, health care and treatment organizations that help those impacted by substance abuse.

CVS announced the Aetna foundations grant will help fuel the coalition’s new Law Enforcement Overdose Intervention Program and will help opioid users end their addiction, instead of being arrested.

Lauren Cummings, director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition, said the program will comprise of a team that includes one law enforcement officer, a counselor, a case manager and a certified recovery specialist.

This team will be mobilized to help those recently affected by an overdose and can help them in their homes or at a hospital.

"Rather then incarcerating the person, we will attempt to engage the person in treatment," Cummings said. "If the individual is successfully engaging with the program, then the law enforcement officer can always not charge the person for the particular drug that was used in the overdose."

Cummings said the grant will fund the program for the next three years and should be up and running by late spring.