Research Shows Opioid Overdoses on the Rise

Southside Wellness Coalition commissioned a community needs assessment in the spring of 2020 to help identify substance use and prevention needs in the counties of Brunswick, Halifax, and Mecklenburg.

Key findings showed that Southside Virginia populations have a higher rate of mental health concerns than other parts of the state. For example, on average 55.5% of Virginians struggle with an anxiety disorder. However, in the counties of Southside Virginia, the average jumps to 79.4%.

Research for the study was conducted by Dr. Sophie Wenzel, Associate Director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Public Health Practice and Research. Dr. Wenzel conducts community-engaged research throughout Southwest and Southside Virginia and beyond, with a focus on rural and health-disparate populations.

The goal of this effort is to help the Southside Wellness Coalition prioritize needs in the community as well as existing and needed resources that can be leveraged to reduce and prevent substance misuse in Southside Virginia.

Dr. Wenzel also gathered information about the welfare of children in Southside Virginia, focusing specifically on the areas of kinship care and foster care. For example, the study shows that 63.70% of households in Halifax county raise their grandchildren with no parent present.

Dr. Wenzel presented her findings at the Southside Wellness Coalition meeting in November 2020. There are quite a few data points that focus on the rise of opioid use and overdose in our local communities. The survey showed that opioid overdose deaths in Southside Virginia more than doubled between 2017 and 2018.

To learn more about these and other statistics, download the 2020 Community Needs Assessment for FREE from the Southside Wellness Coalition website at or from Southside Behavioral Health at

In addition to funding community research, Southside Wellness Coalition works side by side with Southside Behavioral Health to provide FREE community prevention services, such as REVIVE! Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Training. If you or someone you know is interested in this or other trainings, please reach out to Kenan Tyner-Smith at or 434-572-6916 Ext. 1550.

In regard to opioid use, Southside Behavioral Health offers outpatient therapy, case management, opioid replacement therapy (OBOT), and jail services. Take the first step in your recovery today by calling 1-833-272-2778. If you or someone you know is in CRISIS, reach out to the 365/24/7 CRISIS response line at 1-833-377-7272.