Peace Fights Opioid Epidemic in Virginia Legislature

Addiction to opiates claim more lives than car accidents according to recent statistics

As a family law attorney, Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover) works with many individuals to rebuild their family unit after enduring the devastating effects of the surge in substance use cases, specifically opiate addiction. Through his tireless efforts, many families have found pathways to recovery through peer supported models or by medically assisted treatment. With this expertise, Del. Peace sought to make needed reforms to Virginia law to help individuals, families and children who are suffering from substance use addiction.

This Session, Del. Peace supported several measures to fight the opioid crisis in Virginia.  Peace is a co-patron of House Bill (HB) 2161 which passed the House by a vote of 97-0.  HB 2161 will require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work to develop educational standards and curricula for training health care providers in the safe and appropriate use of opioids to treat pain while minimizing the risk of addiction and substance abuse.

Speaking to the importance of these measures, Sheriff Joe McLaughlin of New Kent County states, “The issue of opioid addiction is at crisis level across our nation and this legislation is a step in the right direction. Law enforcement cannot do it alone and the assistance of the community and the prescriber is a necessary ingredient in confronting this problem.”

HB 2165 passed the House and would require that, beginning July 1, 2020, any prescription for an opiate to be issued as an electronic prescription and prohibits a pharmacist from dispensing an opiate unless the prescription is issued as an electronic prescription. This measure will cut down or eliminate the prescription mills which have popped up across the region.

Hanover Sheriff David Hines offered, ““Having this bill in place is a step in the right direction. Having served on the Governor’s Task Force for Prescription Medicine and Heroin Abuse, any measure to reduce this kind of abuse is a positive endeavor. As I have said for many years, this is not something we can arrest our way out of. I can only hope this is just one of many steps to be taken to help law enforcement and our communities respond to this growing problem. Partnerships have always been the key to success and supports our belief that strong partnerships create safe communities.”

“A public health emergency has been declared in the Commonwealth as a result of the opioid epidemic.  In 2016, statewide fatal opioid overdoses will surpass 1,000 and in 2015 more people died from opiate related overdoses than in car accidents.  We can no longer stand by while this addiction claims more lives,” stated Peace.  “We cannot address this epidemic with a one person, one mindset approach. Thanks to the work of stakeholders from across the state, including Del. Todd Pillion, the House has advanced solid public health initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic with a shared focus on prevention and treatment.”

Another Peace sponsored measure will direct the Boards of Dentistry and Medicine to adopt regulations for the prescribing of opioids and products containing buprenorphine passed unanimously. HB 2167 passed unanimously.