Bridge Christian Church Hosting Free Screening of 'Chasing the Dragon'

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Bridge Christian Church Bridge Christian Church
Susan Lendermon Susan Lendermon
Bridge Christian Church Bridge Christian Church

A group promoting health and wellness in the Shenandoah Valley is hosting its first event Tuesday night in Fishersville.

The Greater Augusta Wellness Partnership is inviting people for a free movie screening on opioid awareness. Chasing the Dragon is a documentary about lives affected by heroin and opioids.

"It really clearly shows through the eyes of people who've struggled with addiction and their parents or family members what toll it really takes on people when they get addicted," said Susan Lendermon, Greater Augusta Wellness Partnership.

A panel discussion moderated by the Central Shenandoah Health District director will follow the film.

The partnership is planning future events to cover other topics such as teen depression.

Tuesday's screening at the Bridge Christian Church is free and open to the public.

Release from the Greater Augusta Wellness Partnership:

(FISHERSVILLE, Va.) -- The Greater Augusta Wellness partnership is inviting the public to attend a free screening of the film “Chasing the Dragon” on Tuesday, July 24 at 6 p.m. at the Bridge Christian Church, 1275 Goose Creek Rd. in Fishersville. Following the film, Central Shenandoah Health District Director Dr. Laura Kornegay will moderate an expert panel discussion on the cycle of addiction. Refreshments will be provided by Project GROWS, the Alleghany Mountain Institute Farm at Augusta Health and Mental Health America-Augusta.

“Chasing the Dragon” is a 45-minute documentary film that illustrates the tragic consequences of opioid abuse, through the stories of several individuals who abused opiates themselves or had family members who became addicts. The film also features interviews with medical and law enforcement professionals, who discuss the effects of addiction and describe how this epidemic is unlike any this country has seen before.

In November 2016, the Virginia State Health Commissioner declared the Virginia opioid crisis a public health emergency. The declaration came in response to the growing number of overdoses attributed to opioid abuse, and evidence that Carfentanil, a highly dangerous synthetic opioid used to sedate large animals such as elephants, has made its way into Virginia. There were 1,268 deaths in Virginia in 2016 caused by legal or illegal opioids, and drug overdose now kills more people in Virginia and nationally than guns, motor vehicle accidents or falls.

Augusta County, Staunton and Waynesboro recorded five deaths in 2016 due to opioid overdose. The region has seen an increase in rates of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (drug withdrawal symptoms in infants due to maternal drug use), as well as an increase in rates of Hepatitis C (which can be a complication of intravenous drug use). While the local area has not been as severely affected by the opioid epidemic as other parts of the state, the opioid epidemic does bring attention to the disease of addiction, which can involve a variety of substances, including opioids, methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, tobacco and alcohol.

The most recent Community Health Needs Assessment in 2017 showed that behavioral health and substance use disorders were some of the top health concerns for the area. The Greater Augusta Wellness Partnership hopes that this community film screening and panel discussion will help to bring a better understanding of the disease of addiction and remove the stigma associated with this disease.

For more information, see the movie trailer at www.fbi.gov/video-repository/chasing_dragon_trailer.mp4/view or contact Dr. Laura Kornegay, director, Central Shenandoah Health District at 540-332-7830.

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