Senator Tim Kaine visits Harrisonburg for roundtable discussion on substance abuse prevention

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) – U.S. Senator from Virginia Tim Kaine was in Harrisonburg on Wednesday, joining Mayor Deanna Reed for a panel discussion on substance abuse prevention at the Lucy Simms Continuing Education Center.

The discussion brought together Rockingham County Attorney Marsha Garst, city leaders, law enforcement, addiction prevention advocates, recovery organizations and people who have known or lost someone. one because of drug addiction.

“There were a lot of powerful stories about people sharing their experiences or their losses in their families that will stick with me,” said Kaine, a Democrat who represents Virginia in the U.S. Senate.

During the discussion, the group discussed challenges in dealing with substance abuse issues as well as possible solutions.

“I heard a lot of challenges. Lack of mental health services and, generally, substance use disorders begin with an underlying mental health problem. So not enough mental health services, I hear that everywhere, but I’ve also heard signs of hope,” Kaine said.

Kaine cited peer recovery programs like Strength in Peers in Harrisonburg as a great tool.

“Which is very promising, but our reimbursement methods at the federal level for Medicaid or private insurance don’t really support peer recovery. So can we have policies that will support it because peer recovery works, I see it here and I see it elsewhere,” Kaine said.

Kaine said there needs to be more access to these types of programs available.

“If we reimburse treatment, can we create a model that will include peer recovery programs? We don’t at the moment, so it’s a policy change we need to think about and maybe try to accomplish. Even if we do it in some pilots and show it works, maybe we can do it more generally,” he said.

Kaine added that another key part of drug prevention is creating a community that can work together to provide resources to those in need.

“That can be difficult to do in a metro area of ​​millions and millions. It’s a community close enough to form community bonds, which is what you ultimately need to do to really prevent substance abuse disorders, Harrisonburg-Rockingham can do that,” he said.

Another prevention measure that was discussed was finding ways to use things like pop culture and social media to better reach and educate young people.

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