Addiction in Northern Virginia

 We are all familiar with the headlines and have lost our sensitivity when hearing about the “opioid epidemic”.  Yet for many of us it seems to remain at arm’s length, not quite part of our immediate world.    Yet is that really so?  According to the Fairfax County Health Department, opioid overdoses are the “number one cause of unnatural death” in Fairfax County, Virginia. In fact, the number of overdose deaths involving fentanyl is higher in Fairfax County than half of Virginia. The Virginia Department of Health’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner stresses that there is no “typical” opioid user; this addiction epidemic affects people of all ages, all genders, and all areas of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  In Fairfax County it had been reported that 1 in every 22 Fairfax County children from 8th to 12th grade self-reports non-medical use of prescription painkillers, and even more of these children report using alcohol and marijuana (Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, 2020).

While we may want to believe that the affluent bedroom communities that surround us are perfect suburban stereotypes, the data shows otherwise.  By most measures, our community remains comparatively affluent: Fairfax City ranks tenth on the list for 2020’s wealthiest places in America based on household income; Arlington County ranks eighth, Fairfax County third, Falls Church City second, and Loudon County tops the list at first (U.S. News and World Reports, 2020).  

We lead the nation in wealth, we have beautiful neighborhoods, and our school systems consistently rank among the top in the nation. We enjoy an easy commute to Washington, DC yet live among some of the most beautiful country views and the Potomac River … and yet we remain impacted by what is arguably the worst phase of the worst addiction epidemic the country has ever known.  

Addiction does not discriminate. Addiction is a mental health disease.

We recognize this because we know first-hand the impact that addiction has on our lives and the lives of those we love: the founding partners of New Paradigm Recovery met in long term recovery, and that has translated into the establishment of an empathetic and caring treatment environment.  New Paradigm Recovery’s team of veteran therapists, case management staff, and healthcare providers have established a comprehensive and holistic outpatient treatment approach to help build the foundation for lasting recovery.  Our approach to treating alcohol and substance dependency addresses trauma and co-occurring mental health issues.  We encourage healthy habits such as building meaningful friendships and engagement in recovery support networks.  Of particular importance we work with spouses, families, and friends to begin the healing process for fractured relationships and promote emotional wellness at home. 

At New Paradigm Recovery we have come to understand that in order to be effective in helping to heal our families, our communities, and ourselves we have to face the realities in our homes, in our communities, and in the world around us.  Research data from local health departments make clear the gravity of the issues facing our communities; and our responsibility to acknowledge solutions not merely as a treatment provider but as citizens of the D.C. Metropolitan area.  As citizens we must look beyond the stereotypes, support the men, women, and families struggling with mental health and dependency problems, face the difficult realities and build solid pathways toward lasting mental and emotional health and community. 

Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board. (2020, May). Opioid use disorder in Fairfax County. From Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/community-services-board/heroin-opioids/county-facts

U.S. News and World Reports. (2020, December 11). The 15 Richest Counties in the U.S. From U.S. News and World Reports: https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/slideshows/richest-counties-in-america?slide=16

1 Trauma is a unique yet common factor in all forms of addiction and mental health disorders. We work collaboratively with specialists in the outpatient community in order to begin the process of treating trauma yet understand full well that working through trauma is a lifelong process, and not limited to an intensive outpatient care program.

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