Alexandria puts final touches on 3-year opioid action plan

In Virginia, Alexandria is close to finalizing a three-year strategic plan to fight the opioid crisis, and city leaders are asking one final time for input from the public.

The plan has a five-prong approach:

  • Prevention and education;
  • Addiction treatment;
  • Overdose response and recovery;
  • Diversion of addicted people into treatment;
  • Supply reduction.

In 2015, the city formed an opioid work group made up of representatives from city law enforcement, public schools, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the health department, Inova Alexandria Hospital and more.

The work group meets monthly, and Emily Bentley, the city’s opioid response coordinator, said it has been a collaborative effort.

“It’s not just treatment doing treatment, police doing police work, the hospital doing hospital work … we all work together,” Bentley said.

In 2017, the work group put together a list of priorities.

“What we realized was, we were just kind of throwing darts at the problem, and we really needed an organized plan for the next three years moving forward for what exactly we want to accomplish under our five focus areas, and then in what priority we want to accomplish those things,” Bentley said.

A series of public meetings about the strategic plan began in 2018, and a draft was settled on last month. The work group is asking once more for community input before the plan is finalized.

That’s expected to happen in early January of next year.

“The last step here is just to get community feedback on primarily what they think might be missing. Do we have any gaps in our plan that we just didn’t see? And then, even more importantly, who do they think should be implementing each of these initiatives?” Bentley said.

In addition, Bentley said her team is deciding on which agencies and departments should be responsible and who should be assisting in putting into action the things they want to accomplish.

The city will accept online public comments on the plan through the week after Thanksgiving, and there are two ways to provide it.

Head to the plan’s website and click either the “give feedback” tab, or “share your ideas.”

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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