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Overdose crisis calls seeing a rise this year

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Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 3:42 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Doctors with UVA Health say they’re seeing an increase in crisis calls for drug misuse in the Blue Ridge area.

Doctor Christopher Holstege, the director of the Blue Ridge Poison Center, says emerging substances are creating issues.

“Anecdotally, as an emergency physician and as a toxicologist who manage these patients, have we seen an increase or seeing changes? And the answer is yes,” Dr. Holstege said Friday, June 17.

In the first six months of this year, our area saw 704 crisis calls for drug overdoses. This marks a 25% increase from the same period last year.

Holstege says the increase in calls is in part from new substances emerging.

“This has been a warning by the United Nations going back 10 years ago,” Holstege said. “We’re seeing Xylazine, we’re seeing new opioids, we’re seeing new benzodiazepines, we’re seeing kratom, you know, some of the plant-based substances and overdose that are being abused.”

He says this is being made worse by people illegally buying drugs and not really knowing what is in them.

Holstege says he sees this problem on a regular basis.

“Those who are peddling these are not looking out for [buyers’] health,” he said. “They act like they may or that they know what’s in those substances. They usually do not and I would not trust them.”

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