Kaine, Harrisonburg community leaders discuss substance use issues
Community leaders in Harrisonburg met with Senator Tim Kaine on Wednesday to discuss substance use, treatment, and recovery. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.
Kaine met with city council members, law enforcement, nonprofit leaders, and local residents to hear what drug-related problems the community was facing, and what could be done to address them.
A Harrisonburg High School junior named Mairani spoke about how social media has made it easier to get drugs.
MAIRANI: Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, everyone is using it … not only high schoolers do it. As young as fourth graders are starting to post videos about, like, "oh I'm smoking in the bathroom."
Brooke Wetherell, a detective with the Harrisonburg Police Department, was formerly a patrol officer.
BROOKE WETHERELL: You can, from right here where we sit, throw a stone and I can hit two houses of overdose deaths that I have worked.
She and others at the table praised the work of Nicky Fadley and the organization Strength in Peers, which provides peer support and fentanyl test strips, among other programs.
WETHERELL: Honest to God, in the last two months, I have told every single addict that I run into daily, "please, go to Strength in Peers."
Paloma Saucedo lost her 18-year-old son, Jorge Eli, earlier this year, presumably to an overdose, although she's still waiting on an official cause of death. She recounted calling the police while he was having a mental health crisis.
PALOMA SAUCEDO: And because my son was already 18 … and he was denying suicidal ideation, they could not intervene. So my question to them was, when will you be able to do something, when you have to come and get his body? And a week later they came to get his body.
Saucedo told WMRA that he was a wonderful son, brother, and friend.