CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - It's a crisis tearing through the hearts of communities in Central Virginia and beyond.
In Chesterfield, 1 out of 5 overdoes is fatal, according to the county's Substance Abuse Free Environment, or SAFE organization. Since Oct. 1, police say there have been 21 overdoses in the county. Two were fatal.
"We have to start talking about it, because we can't talk about it afterwards," said Paul Brasler with the Daily Planet Health Services.
Heroin overdoses are up 17 percent in Chesterfield from 2016. Just a few weeks ago, Chesterfield Police say 20-year-old Daniel Stephenson overdosed on heroin in the bathroom of the Wendy's on Hull Street Road. His 6-month-old baby was with him at the time.
Now, the young father sits in jail without bond, charged with child neglect and abuse.
"We fight this by providing treatment," said Brasler.
Brasler see the devastation of the opioid struggle each and everyday, working with those in recovery at the Daily Planet Health Service. Many aren't even making it to the point of addiction recovery.
"This is a medical disorder with a behavioral component," explained Brasler.
He says it is important to focus on several aspects of addiction, to help people understand and overcome their problems.
"There's not a person in our program who has not had a loved one or close friend die of an opioid overdose, this is that serious," he said.
Brasler works with the Office Based Opioid Treatment Program, also called OBOT. The program provides drug screenings, therapy, and Suboxone, a drug that helps cut down on cravings and lessens the crippling effects of withdrawals. Anyone in the program is required to sign a contract showing their commitment to recovery.
"We need more programs like this, we need more discussions like this, we're trying to make a difference here and I think we are," said Brasler.
Chesterfield County also offers several resources for those struggling with addiction.
Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.