HERNDON, Va. (7News) — A different kind of message Sunday at Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia, as the church opened its doors to facilitate an important but often uncomfortable conversation on drugs and addiction.
The church held its first Drugs & Addiction event, in response to rising overdose numbers across Fairfax County and concerns expressed by the congregation.
"It’s great to educate people about what’s going on, but we really need to have solutions," Floris United Methodist Church Care Ministries Coordinator Carol Benson said.
You can run, but you can’t hide. Drug addiction affects everyone.
Sunday the church brought solutions directly to its members in the form of resources and speakers, in both the law enforcement and recovery fields.
Fairfax County Police Detective Ryan Scott talked about new Fentanyl trends and warning signs parents should watch for that could indicate drug-use--like cut-off straws, rolled up dollar bills and burnt or missing tin foil.
"That's one of our biggest things that we always come across, is burnt foil," Scott said. "We've had parents report, 'I'm running out of foil--we get it one day, it's gone the next.'
"That's one of the main ways that users are using the pills, is by putting the pill in foil, burning the bottom of the foil, and then inhaling the smoke from it."
Many parents also concerned about what’s being done to prevent drugs from trickling into schools.
"We’ve met with schools, county leaders, to address how we can tackle these issues together," Scott said.
Last December--7News reporting how all Fairfax County Public Schools were stocking up on life-saving drug Narcan.
RELATED | 'Life-saving possibility': Fairfax Co. stocks overdose reversal med Narcan in all schools
As of April 2023, in the Fairfax Health District, which includes Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Falls Church City, county data shows there were more than 130 non-fatal opioid overdoses so far this year. Since 2016, the data shows there were 75 non-fatal overdoses in those 17-years-old and younger.
According to that same data, fatal overdose numbers have been trending up since 2019, with a decline in 2022. Non-fatal overdoses rose to around 300 incidents in 2022, according to the data.
Even the church has been hit by the devastation of opioid addiction.
"We’ve had teenagers in our congregation who’ve passed from substance abuse, overdoses," Benson said. "We've all had loved ones who are dealing with this, so I think, our church, we need to do something about this, we can’t just be content."
Benson now hopes members can take the life-saving tools and resources shared on Sunday out to the community around them, saying the church is "called to care for the least, the lost, the last."
"If this seminar can help one person, it’s a success," Benson said. "So hopefully it’s a good day, it's helpful to somebody."