ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WRIC) — U.S. Attorneys in Virginia, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Friday announced the launch of a new website to fight back against the stigma surrounding substance use disorder.
“Our hope is that through this website we will empower Virginians to share their buried stores of substance use disorder,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia G. Zachary Terwilliger said. “Unfortunately, the stigma that historically accompanies this disease often silences family and friends of the deceased. Those who succumb to substance use disorder are our loved ones: our parents, our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, and friends. They deserve to have their stories told, free from shame and without stigma.”
Fatal drug overdose has been the leading method of unnatural death in the commonwealth since 2013, according to Virginia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
“We must work together to do all be can to stem the flow of opioids in our communities and the addiction and death they can cause,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Daniel P. Bubar said. “This website is a major step toward encouraging individuals across Virginia to join together and tell their stories as we seek to remove the stigma of substance use disorder.”
According to a Friday release, the website will allow those who have a family member whose life has been cut short by substance use disorder to share their story through the power of social media. The platform, in turn, allows others across Virginia to add to the story and let others know they are not alone in this ongoing fight to save lives.
Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia say five families who lost their loved ones to substance use disorders have provided details about what happened in the hopes of turning those tragedies into life-saving conversations and lessons for others.
#StoriesOverStigma is a social activation that allows people in recovery and family members who have lost a loved one to share their stories and work to change the conversation. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, together with the DEA and other law enforcement partners, are working with families and advocates to raise awareness “and change the false narrative that substance use disorder is a choice.”