Nour Alamiri, the deputy executive director for the Unified Prevention Coalition of Fairfax County, discusses issues facing the Fairfax community (opioid abuse among them) while also offering her philosophy on how to fight them.
How big of a job do you feel you have before you, what with the increasing opioid epidemic and the many synthetic drugs hitting the market?
As of 2016, Fairfax County had the highest number of drug-related deaths in the state with 103 deaths, with about 80 of those cases relating to opioid overdoses. The key to overcoming this epidemic is to invest in community collaboration between county and nonprofit agencies. It is very important to educate about recognizing symptoms and provide information about community resources to deal with substance abuse.
How will your experience as a longtime resident of Northern Virginia shape the way you will approach local prevention issues?
As someone who attended Fairfax County Public Schools from kindergarten through 12th grade, I have a good understanding of our community and care deeply about its future. I strongly believe that the key to approaching prevention issues in such a diverse area as Fairfax County is to avoid using the one-size-fits-all model.
Are there any fringe issues in the community that you believe might come to take precedence during your time as deputy executive director?
A common misconception is that drugs are safer because a medical professional prescribed them. Many users also are unaware of the potency and potential deadly impact of mixing various prescription and nonprescription drugs with each other or with alcohol. Another topic that has become increasingly important in our prevention work is the co-relationship between substance use and mental health disorders.