Sheriff's department uses Facebook to fight surge in heroin use

Updated: Apr. 11, 2017 at 3:49 PM EDT
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CULPEPER, VA (WWBT) - In Culpeper, heroin use is surging. The drug's grip on the county hasn't gone unnoticed by Captain Nick White with the Sheriff's Department.

"This is almost a daily occurrence for us, that we are responding to an overdose," said White, the Captain of Criminal Investigations Division.

White said the department wanted to find a way to reach as many people as possible to let them know how widespread heroin use had become, and what better way then Facebook.

"It allows us to reach a number of people that we wouldn't normally reach," White said.

Each time deputies respond to an overdose or make a heroin-related arrest, they post about it on the Sheriff Department's Facebook page.

Last month, deputies posted a status about a woman found unconscious on March 18, lying on the ground outside of her pick-up truck after overdosing.

On March 23, a status was posted about a case the day prior when deputies arrested a man allegedly preparing to sell ten bags of heroin outside a local 7-Eleven.

"When you're not affected by it, or don't use, or you don't have a family that uses, you sort of become immune to it," said White. "I would say in Culpeper, this has become one of our number-one problems."

So far this year, White says there have been 13 overdoses and two overdose deaths.

One of the most alarming things about the uptick in heroin use in Culpeper is exactly who is using, or being impacted by drug use. White says over the past month, EMTs have used Narcan on a 62-year-old man who overdosed, as well as a two-year-old child who overdosed on his mother's Suboxone - a medication used to treat opioid addiction.

"It's killing people, and we need the public to understand that it's killing people here in Culpeper," said White.

There is criteria for what gets posted. White says they only post names of people who've been charged with a crime - which is public record. He says for the most part, the response to the Facebook page has been positive.

"We see some comments: 'another overdose.' 'Oh my gosh, another one,'" said White. "There's usually a positive response, but there's usually people who say we shouldn't waste the money on those people. Our response is they need their life saved."

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