This article covers the Rural Substance Abuse Awareness Coalition’s efforts to decrease opiate use, raise awareness, and educate the general public on treatment options.  These efforts were made possible by a $100,000 Opiate Prevention, Treatment and Recovery (OPT-R) grant.


RSAAC partnerships helping save local lives


  • 20 hrs ago


In 2016, 15 people from Goochland and Powhatan counties died from opiate use. As a result of these numbers, Goochland Powhatan Community Services Board was selected to receive a $100,000 Opiate Prevention, Treatment and Recovery (OPT-R) grant award from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The Rural Substance Abuse Awareness Coalition (RSAAC) has created an aggressive plan to utilize the Prevention portion of the grant funds to reduce access to opiates, increase community awareness of opiate dangers, and inform the community of treatment options.

On July 11, 2017, Larry Nordvig, vice-chair and District 2 Member of the Powhatan County Board of Supervisors, was unanimously elected RSAAC Chair. “We are in the business of saving lives,” noted Nordvig, as he reminded RSAAC members of the importance of community partnerships in making change through coalition work.

Nordvig succeeds Sergeant Brad Luxford of the Powhatan County Sheriff’s Office as chair. Luxford served on RSAAC’s Leadership Committee since July 2016 and as chair since February 7, 2017.

Carolyn McKann, a Goochland County resident, continues to serve as vice chair. She has served within the coalition’s leadership since July 2016. McKann takes an active role in educating the coalition about the Prescription Monitoring Program that is essential to helping local doctors prevent opiate abuse among their patients. She also was instrumental in establishing RSAAC’s current infrastructure and bylaws.

During his tenure, Luxford established a permanent drug drop box in Powhatan County. The drop box provides citizens with the opportunity to rid their homes of unwanted prescription drugs instead of waiting for bi-annual drug take back days. Luxford also organized and promoted two drug take back events in Powhatan County, served as a liaison between RSAAC and the Central Virginia Opioid and Heroin Taskforce, and represented RSAAC at the Virginia Behavioral Health and Wellness Conference in June 2016 as state leaders convened to begin creating a needs assessment to describe how substance use is affecting Virginia. In addition, Luxford represented RSAAC at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) national conference that took place in Las Vegas, Nevada in July 2016.

Luxford’s contributions to the RSAAC Needs Assessment during the past two years led the coalition to understand substance use trends in Goochland and Powhatan counties. The RSAAC Needs Assessment figured prominently in the awarding of the OPT-R grant.

Nordvig will continue to chair RSAAC’s Planning Taskforce. The taskforce convened on Wednesday, June 21 to prioritize the utilization of prevention funds for RSAAC. A tentative budget plan was approved during the July 11 RSAAC meeting. The plan includes a coordinated media campaign to raise awareness of substance use issues, treatment, and prevention information for Goochland and Powhatan Counties.

The community is thankful for RSAAC’s leaders and their many contributions that are enhancing the health of our local communities in both Goochland and Powhatan counties.

The Rural Substance Abuse Awareness Coalition (RSAAC) was established in 2014 to serve the Virginia counties of Goochland and Powhatan. RSAAC members consist of representatives from schools, businesses, organizations, justice and law enforcement, local health departments, and citizens who envision a community free from substance abuse and have the skills and motivation to initiate change for greater community health and wellness.

Meetings occur on the first Tuesday of the month at 1 p.m., with meeting locations rotating on a quarterly basis between Goochland and Powhatan counties.

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