'Seek help': Woman shares her painful story amid fatal drug overdose epidemic in Virginia

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Fatal overdoses have been the leading cause of death in Virginia since 2013. Last year, the death toll reached record highs.

Fatal drug overdoses claimed more lives in 2021 than gun violence and motor vehicle-related deaths combined. 8News spoke with Jennifer Brown, a woman who is using the pain of losing a loved one to a drug overdose to fuel her message of awareness.

“It sucks so bad,” Brown said.

Brown lost her boyfriend, who she affectionately called “Fer,” to an overdose back in March. He died at Chippenham Hospital.

“He was found in a hotel room unresponsive, and they had him on life support for five days,” Brown said.

She says his addiction started when he was injured at work and a doctor gave him prescription opioids for the pain.

“He had chased wanting more once he got a taste of it,” she said.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, fatal drug overdoses have been the leading cause of unnatural deaths since 2013, increasing dramatically in 2016. Of those overdoses, VDH reports opioids have been the most lethal since 2007.

“It’s just important that people know this is out there and what this is doing,” Brown said.

Brown plans to attack this issue head-on through a non-profit she is launching to help people with drug addiction and recovery.

“Don’t take for granted that the person beside you is okay,” Brown said. “Seek help, don’t be embarrassed. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

If you know anyone struggling with substance abuse, you can reach out to the links below: