Awareness, Prevention and Resource Fair Shows Community Help Is Available

By Rebecca Maynard

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction or mental illness, help is available. On January 10, Clarke County Public Schools, in conjunction with the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office and the Northwestern Community Services Board, held an awareness, prevention, and resource fair at the school to let the community know where to turn when they need help.

Special Agent Thomas Hickey of the Drug Enforcement Administration spoke with a slideshow illustrating the dangers of Fentanyl, an opioid drug 50 times more powerful than heroin and 100 times more powerful than morphine, which continues to fuel an epidemic of drug overdose deaths in the 
United States.

Since 2018, Fentanyl and its analogues have been responsible for most drug overdose deaths in the United States, causing over 71,238 deaths in 2021. It constitutes the majority of all drug overdose deaths in the United States since it overtook heroin in 2018 and has been reported in pill form, including pills mimicking pharmaceutical drugs such as oxycodone. Fentanyl’s ease of manufacture and high potency makes it easier to produce and smuggle, resulting in fentanyl replacing other abused narcotics and becoming more widely used.

“They [drug dealers] are mixing it with Adderall medication for ADHD, and college kids are taking it so they can stay up all night,” Hickey said. “It’s just crazy because you have no idea what is in those pills, and you have to believe that everything is laced with Fentanyl at this point.”

Although the statistics are grave, Hickey wants the community to know that help is available. The Northwestern Community Services Board, which serves several local counties including Clarke, offers intensive outpatient programs three times per week. Services include evidence-based individual and group counseling, medication management, and psychoeducation groups. American Society of Addiction Medicine approved curricula are utilized in the program.

Office-based opioid treatment is also available, as well as substance exposed infants program and a recovery skills group. Anyone having a mental health crisis is encouraged to call 540-635-4804. A variety of programs and assistance are available, including counseling, psychiatric rehabilitation day programs, and residential living for those discharged from psychiatric facilities.

The organization also offers prevention programs and has devices available such as lock boxes to control prescription medication use.

“It’s on the user to say, ‘I need help,’” Hickey said. “We can get you the help, but you need to want the help.”

“People can always reach out to the sheriff’s office,” said Chief Deputy Patricia Putnam of the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department. “If you know of someone or need help yourself, please reach out to whoever you’re most comfortable with and start a conversation so you can get help.”

For those concerned about calling the police or sheriff’s department on behalf of a loved one in mental health crisis, the Northwestern Community Services Board has provided crisis intervention training for more than 450 law enforcement officers.

“The training I received exceeded my expectations and has been very useful in my daily operations,” said Berryville Police Chief Neal White on the organization’s website. “Mental health issues have been gaining national attention and it is important to the mission of public safety to make an investment in training staff on how to respond to calls for service dealing with 
the mentally ill.”

The Northwestern Community Services Board has a Clarke County clinic located at 309 W. Main St. in Berryville and can be reached at 540-277-8080 or The Clarke County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 540-955-1234, and the Berryville Police Department is at 540-955-3863.