Region endures spate of overdoses

The Warren Sentinel

WINCHESTER — At least 16 overdoses have been reported in the region since Oct. 12, including two deaths, the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition said Tuesday.

Executive Director Lauren Cummings said the concentration of the overdoses in certain areas indicates the incidents may be the result of bad batches of drugs.

Eight of the overdoses occurred in Warren County, including two in Front Royal, Cummings said. Seven occurred in Frederick County and one was reported in Strasburg.

Including the two recent deaths, the region — which includes Winchester and Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah and Page counties — has seen 24 overdose fatalities so far in 2016, the coalition reported.

The recent spate of overdoses comes less than three weeks after Northwest Virginia Regional Drug Task Force agents reported eight nonlethal overdoses in Winchester and Frederick County in the span of just four days.

In those incidents, agents said the drugs may have made their way into the region from Baltimore.

"It's sad," Northwest Regional Adult Drug Treatment Court participant James Thall said Tuesday.

The 42-year-old, who was one of the first to have his case transferred to the regionís first drug treatment court, also celebrated his 60th day of sobriety Tuesday and was graduated into the second phase of the program, which will allow him to appear before the court every other week, rather than each Tuesday.

Thall said the treatment court ó which focuses on identifying and managing the causes of addiction ó has been instrumental in turning his life around.

"I got the chance to do this, and it saved my life," he said outside the courtroom. "When are people going to learn that this is no joke?"

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