Virginia Addiction Treatment
Virginia has experienced an uptick in drug smuggling activities, especially for marijuana and cocaine. Roughly 50 percent of the state’s population resides in three regions – Northern Virginia, Central Virginia and Tidewater – making it easier for drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) to move drugs in and out of the state.
Every year, approximately 165,000 Virginia residents ages 12 and older abuse or become dependent on illicit substances.
Since 2009, the number of Virginia residents seeking treatment has increased. In 2013, more than 22,000 people were participating in a substance abuse program. Among these individuals, 36.6 percent were in treatment for drug use only, 18.8 percent for alcohol use only and 44.7 percent for both drug and alcohol use.
Substances frequently treated in Virginia rehab facilities include:
The major transportation methods of drugs across the state are private and commercial vehicles, airplanes and trains. Even though the Virginia coastline has several seaports, the ports are typically not used for moving substances. Colombian and Dominican DTOs transport drugs, namely cocaine, between New York City, Philadelphia and parts of Virginia. Marijuana, on the other hand, often comes from Mexican and Jamaican DTOs based in several southeastern cities such as Charlotte and Atlanta.
- Highways: Interstates 64, 66, 77, 81, 85, and 95 and U.S. Highway 13 are the most commonly used highways to haul drugs into and out of Virginia. Many highways connect with one another, making it easier to carry drugs from state to state. Interstate 95 is the primary highway that runs from Florida to Maine and U.S. Highway 13 is the main road running along Virginia’s shoreline.
- Airports: Virginia’s two principal airports are Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National. Many of the airports, excluding Ronald Reagan Washington National, have international service. Small amounts of illicit substances are concealed in passenger luggage and clothing, whereas larger amounts are shipped in containers.
With large quantities of substances coming in and out of Virginia each day, drug-related crime is a growing concern among residents. The number of Virginia federal sentences involving drugs surpass that of the national average. More than 45 percent of federal sentences are related to drugs, with 51 percent involving crack cocaine.
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Laws of Virginia Drug Use
Virginia has some of the toughest legal penalties for possessing, manufacturing and distributing illicit substances. Criminal charges and sentencing for drug-related activities depend on the type of drug, as well as the amount involved.
Transporting one or more ounces of heroin or harmful opioids into Virginia involves a mandatory minimum three-year jail sentence. These charges increase to a mandatory minimum 10-year jail sentence for subsequent offenses.
Substances are classified into six schedules. Schedules I and II contain drugs with a high risk of dependency, like heroin, cocaine and opioids. Schedules V and VI include lower-risk substances such as depressants, certain stimulants and many over-the-counter medications.
|Schedule||Criminal Charge||Potential Sentence|
|Schedule I or II||Class 5 felony||Not less than one year, nor more than ten years in jail and $2,500 fine|
|Schedule III||Class 1 misdemeanor||Up to 1 year in jail and $2,500 fine|
|Schedule IV||Class 1 misdemeanor||Up to 6 months in jail and $1,000 fine|
|Schedule V||Class 3 misdemeanor||Up to $500 fine|
|Schedule VI||Class 5 misdemeanor||Up to $250 fine|
First-time drug offenders must participate in a treatment program. These programs offer substance abuse therapies, assist with relapse prevention and periodically test for drugs.
In an effort to dismantle large trafficking organizations, Virginia offers up to $10,000 for residents who can help law enforcement officials arrest and convict major drug dealers.
Marijuana Laws in Virginia
The recreational and medicinal use of marijuana is illegal in Virginia. The state does, however, have a medical cannabidiol (CBD) law for the use of extracts high in CBD and low in THC. Currently, medical CBD can only be used to treat intractable epilepsy.
Criminal charges are severe for the possession, sale, manufacture or trafficking of marijuana. In addition, possession with an intent to sell paraphernalia is a punishable offense. Marijuana paraphernalia includes bongs, water pipes, scales, rolling papers and roach clips.
|Offense||Criminal Charge||Potential Sentencing|
|Less than ½ oz (first offense)||Misdemeanor||30 days in jail and $500 fine|
|Less than ½ oz (subsequent offenses)||Misdemeanor||1 year in jail and $2,500 fine|
|½ oz – 5 lbs||Felony||1 – 10 years in jail and $2,500 fine|
|5 lbs – 100 kg||Felony||5 – 30 years in jail and $1,000 fine|
|More than 100 kg||Felony||20 years – life in jail and $100,000 fine|
|To a minor who is at least 5 years younger||Felony||2 – 50 years in jail and $100,000 fine|
|Within 1,000 ft of a school or school bus stop||Felony||1 – 5 years in jail and $100,000 fine|
|Manufacture of marijuana||Felony||5 – 30 years in jail and $10,000 fine|
|Transporting more than 5 lbs into the state||Felony||5 – 40 years in jail and $1,000,000 fine|
|Sale or possession with intent to sell paraphernalia||Misdemeanor||1 year in jail and $2,500 fine|
|To a minor who is at least 3 years younger||Felony||1 year in jail and $2,500 fine|
Some sentences have a mandatory minimum sentence requirement which means the entire sentence must be served without an opportunity for parole.
Addiction Treatment Laws in Virginia
Harm reduction laws in Virginia focus on addiction as a disease that impacts individuals, families, friends and community members. Laws may encompass needle exchange programs, methadone clinics, educational materials, naloxone and other services that help reduce the damage of addiction. When local organizations come together, they can help reduce substance abuse and build a stronger community.
Virginia Drug Courts
Virginia drug court programs started in 2003 and are now available throughout the state. There are several different types of drug courts in Virginia: adult drug court, juvenile drug court, DUI drug court and family drug court.
The substances that are primarily used by Virginia drug court participants include:
- Heroin and prescription drugs – 41 percent
- Alcohol – 36.5 percent
- Marijuana – 10.75 percent
- Crack Cocaine – 5 percent
- Amphetamine – 2.25 percent
- Cocaine Powder – 1.5 percent
During the 12 to 18-month program, nonviolent offenders take part in inpatient or outpatient treatment, individual counseling, various addiction therapies and support groups. The main goals of drug courts are to combat addiction and substance dependency, as well as reduce the number of repeat offenders. After successfully completing drug court in Virginia, offenders may receive a reduced or dismissed charge.
Virginia drug courts prepare offenders for life outside of jail including managing addiction triggers, affordable housing and workforce solutions. In fact, roughly 79 percent of Virginia drug court graduates are employed after their release.
Methadone Clinics in Virginia
The rapid increase of prescription medication abuse has led to the addition of methadone clinics in Virginia. Methadone is used to help subside the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with an opioid or heroin addiction.
Methadone clinics offer several treatment services such as outpatient maintenance, detox programs and long-term methadone maintenance. It’s important to note that methadone should not be the only method in overcoming an addiction. A comprehensive recovery plan will provide the greatest chance for long-term recovery and sobriety.
Over the course of one day in 2013, more than 5,000 Virginia residents received methadone as part of their treatment for substance abuse.
High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program
Virginia counties are part of two High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs: Washington/Baltimore HIDTA and Appalachia HIDTA. An effort between local, state and Federal law enforcement agencies, HIDTA programs aim to combat major DTOs.
Counties that are part of a HIDTA program receive cutting-edge technology devices and other resources to identify and stop drug manufacturers and distributors. For example, the Washington/Baltimore HIDTA has a crime mapping unit that offers a detailed analysis of geographic information relating to DTOs.
Treatment Centers in Virginia
Virginia’s Office of Substance Abuse Services (OCAS) was specifically designed to determine allotted funds and help monitor addiction treatment. In addition, the Virginia Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (VOSAP) collaborates with local and state organizations on various substance abuse initiatives to raise awareness about prevention and recovery. Both agencies provide referrals for various treatment needs such as inpatient facilities, outpatient options, therapy, support groups, sober housing and career opportunities.
Several OCAS substance abuse initiatives are:
- Handle with C.A.R.E.: Handles outreach, referral, medical care, behavioral health and child welfare treatment services. C.A.R.E. stands for Coordinating Access, Responding Effectively to Maternal Substance Use.
- REVIVE!: Provides training to professionals on administering naloxone in the event of an opioid overdose. Naloxone works to reverse the harmful effects of opioids and helps reduce the number of overdose deaths.
- Substance Abuse Screening: Offers different substance and alcohol use screenings for adolescents, adults, older adults, pregnant women and women of childbearing age. After a screening, an intervention will help educate individuals about their use, potential consequences and recovery options.
Choosing a treatment center is a huge decision. When reviewing your options, think about what amenities, therapies, and ongoing support groups are most important to you. Whether a facility is in state or out of state, keep an open mind while weighing the pros and cons of each.