Over the past two years nearly 50 people in Surry County have died as a result of prescription drug overdoses. In all, emergency service workers have answered more than 1,000 overdose calls during that period.
The number of deaths dropped significantly from 2011 to 2012, and total calls dropped some as well, but much work is yet to be done in tackling this problem.
Project Lazarus-Surry is a program that involves local law enforcement, representatives from the medical community, the local school systems, and private individuals. Among the steps the group has taken is to focus on education and setting up prescription drug drop-offs for the medicine that is no longer needed.
One component of the effort that has been lacking is local government funding of the group, but that might be changing.
Surry County Commissioner Larry Phillips attended a Project Lazarus-Surry meeting last week, and afterward said he understood situations involving prescription drug overdoses and misuse “are real problems” and “affects a lot of people at a lot of different levels of society.”
He is correct. This is a public health and public safety issue, and we are glad to see a member of the board of commissioners understanding that.
Phillips said he plans to broach the idea of county funding for the group at an upcoming commissioners’ retreat. We hope his fellow commissioners will catch his vision for this effort, allocating money for Project Lazarus-Surry. Further, we hope Mount Airy, Dobson and Pilot will follow their leadership.
We understand budgets are tight, and there is little, if any, money for new agencies. But this is a major problem facing residents of Surry County. And the reality is, given the shoestring budget Project Lazarus-Surry has been operating on, it would not take a large contribution from each of the four governments to make a significant difference in its ability to make headway in Surry County.