Chesterfield works to combat heroin epidemic in Central Va.

Chesterfield works to combat heroin epidemic in Central Va.

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - "There is no way to describe it because the only way to know the feeling is to have to live through it, and I don't wish that on any family."

Those were the words of Rosalind Watkins, who lost her 21-year-old son Henry to an overdose of pain medications.

"Varsity athlete, football player, wrestler. All-American kid," she said describing her son. "But he found one battle he couldn't win and that was addiction."

Watkins said, like many people, her son had a football injury while he was in high school and began taking prescription pain pills and became addicted.

It has become an all-too-common story and Chesterfield Police is sounding the alarm about the local heroin epidemic. Officers say they simply can't arrest their way out of this crisis.

Police are beefing up vice and narcotics sections just to respond to heroin overdoses that have so far this year matched and passed the numbers for all of  2014.

"One other thing you were saying is you can't arrest the problem away," said Chesterfield Police Major Chris Hensley. "No we can't arrest our way out of it."

Chesterfield Police brought in the chief from Gloucester, Massachusetts to talk about their Angel Program, a Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative that is showing promise.

"It's an innovative concept," explained Hensley. "We are open to anything right now and especially working with our partners through mental health, social services, and especially with SAFE."

"The message from SAFE is that there is help available if you have a substance use disorder, and we want to partner with community stakeholders to solve those problems," said Regina Whitsett, executive director of SAFE, also known as the Substance Abuse Free Environment program.

Watkins is doing her part by running the John Henry Watkins Foundation supporting young adult recovery and serving as one of the sponsors the chief's trip to Richmond.

"I wish we knew then what we know now, but you can turn back the hands of time," she said. "I'm happy to be a part of making things change."

Chesterfield Police are hosting a medication take-back this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Public Safety Training Center.

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