What Does Virginia’s Opioid Emergency Mean for Traffic Safety?

In November 2016, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa J. Levine declared a Public Health Emergency for Virginia’s opioid addiction crisis, seen in an alarming number of deaths due to drug overdoses. Dr. Levine added that the unprecedented level of opioid addiction “can now be classified as an epidemic.” Opioids are habit-forming prescription painkillers derived from opium, the same raw ingredient used to manufacture morphine and heroin. Currently, about three individuals per day die of drug overdoses in the commonwealth. Dr. Levine issued a standing order allowing pharmacies to sell the emergency opioid overdose drug Naloxone to consumers without a prescription.

By definition, a Public Health Emergency alerts the public about a widespread, general threat. Certainly, drug addiction is not contagious in the same way as an influenza outbreak. However, if you think the opioid crisis can be safely compartmentalized within a small segment of the population that abuses drugs, think again. Opioid addicts aren’t necessarily looking for a recreational high. Many are victims of injuries or recovering from surgery and are trying to cope with acute pain. They take drugs as prescribed by a physician and then find themselves unable to quit. These addicts are our neighbors, our coworkers, our classmates and perhaps most importantly, the other drivers on the road.

Opioid addiction can cause the following symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Breathlessness
  • Bronchospasms
  • Labored breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Shaking or Tremors
  • Vomiting

Any of these effects can interfere with a motorist’s concentration and ability to drive. So, simply put, as the opioid crisis grows, our roads are likely to become more and more dangerous.  At Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban, we’ve seen what impaired drivers can do to innocent motorists, passengers and pedestrians, so we’re grateful to state authorities for addressing this issue.

If you are injured in an auto accident in Virginia, North Carolina or South Carolina, Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban is ready to put more than 200 years of combined legal experience to work for you. Call us at (888) 351-1038 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

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