Summit focuses on working together to solve the opioid crisis

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Health officials held an Opioid Crisis Summit Tuesday in Hampton that focused on cities working together through different organizations.

Police can’t solve the crisis without health care officials. Neither can do it without the help of the people on the front lines: The addicts who have recovered.

On a stage in a ballroom full of people, Alethea Lambert shared her story of addiction. It’s something she never thought she’d do.

“I remember being in a place of hopelessness and helplessness. I didn’t understand,” she said. “I didn’t know that people recovered.”

Lambert also said she couldn’t have come back without help. In her case, that help came from institutions like the law enforcement and health care communities.

“They gave me some stability, some accountability, and helped me to see things in myself I did not know existed,” she explained.

That approach, the one that helped Lambert, is what has officials from all over the region listening to her.

“It really takes a village to address this issue,” Dr. Heidi Kulberg of the Virginia Department of Health said.

Officials from the state spearheaded the summit on the opioid crisis.

“We need law enforcement to help with prevention. We need to make sure that illicit drugs are off the streets,” Dr. Kulberg said “We need health care to address treatment.”

Throughout the day, police and health care officials shared what has worked in their cities and counties.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe gave remarks via video message.

In the afternoon, the recovering addicts took the stage and right in the middle sat Alethea Lambert.

“I am going to talk about how important it is to eliminate stigma and the shame that surrounds medically assisted treatment,” she said.

“It takes community to eradicate such a devastating epidemic.”

A community approach to a problem that has plagued not only the region, but the country.