The RAYSAC Steering Committee is the group of community partners who come together to work on the valley-wide level. We come together to share ideas, plan for RAYSAC strategies, and join forces to make the Roanoke Valley a safe and drug free community.  During our action-oriented meetings, we divide into 3 workgroups.  These workgroups strategize and plan on how to address their target problem under the Strategic Prevention Framework Partnership for Success (SPF-PFS) Rx misuse and abuse Heroin overdose Prevention grant through the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health.

Community Awareness & Education Workgroup

  • Social media campaigns
  • Targeted media messages (i.e. parents of adolescents, young adults, senior citizens, pregnant women and visitors to community events)
  • Prescriber, pharmacy, Emergency Department and patient education.

We are currently working on “Be In The Picture” media campaign aimed at youth and young adults aged 12-25 in the Roanoke Valley.  These messages will be shared via social media, YouTube, restaurants, bars, the health department, festivals and various community events.

The “What’s Your Natural High?” campaign promotes healthy ways for youth and young adults to deal with boredom, craving excitement, lack of confidence, escaping problems, coping with stress, wanting instant gratification and having a common ground for bonding with peers.  Photos from RAYSAC’s “What’s Your Natural High?” photo booth at the Roanoke GO Outside Festival can be found here.

Prescription Drug Supply Reduction Workgroup

  • Prescription medication bag stickers
  • Smart pill bottles
  • Rx Drug Take Backs (boxes, drop-off locations)
  • Distribution of and education about drug deactivation packets
  • Education of targeted groups (i.e. hospice and funeral homes) regarding proper disposal of medications

The purpose of this workgroup is getting unused and unwanted medications off the street through.  We are working to increase the importance of locking up medications or making them hard to find.  Diversion (when someone other than the patient uses a prescription medication) is a major problem in the Roanoke Valley (see survey data below). We are also working with community partners to bring more permanent drop-off boxes to the area so that people can dispose of their unwanted medications at their convenience instead of waiting every six months for a Take Back.

Youth are commonly exposed to prescription opioids through initial prescriptions for sports injuries, wisdom teeth removal, etc. Opioids are highly addictive substances and addiction can occur quickly – sometimes in as little as 3-7 days.  It is important for patients and parents of patients to ask if opioids are necessary and inquire about alternative treatments for pain. Pill parties (also called “Pharm Parties”) are common among high school-aged youth; youth are reporting that they get pills from friends and family who are prescribed the medication (called “diversion”).

Once a person is addicted to opioid pain medication, it can quickly escalate to heroin use.  Heroin – which produces the same high as opioids – is less expensive than pills and easier to get on the street. Adding to the danger of an accidental overdose is fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.  Heroin dealers commonly add fentanyl to the heroin they sell, but the amount in a “hit” of heroin is never the same and there is no way for a user to know how much is included.  The high potency of fentanyl greatly increases risk of overdose, especially if a person who uses drugs is unaware that a powder or pill contains fentanyl.

For more information about opioid and heroin abuse in the Roanoke Valley, click here.

Coalition Building & Development Workgroup

  • Coalition capacity building
  • Community mobilization
  • Recruitment and engagement
  • Facilitating systems of care linkages

The purpose of this workgroup is to partner with our community members in treatment, recovery, health insurance, medicine, nursing, hospice, law enforcement, faith leadership, businesses, veterinarians, social workers, media partners, parents, youth and young adults to get “all hands on deck” and to the table of prevention in the Roanoke Valley.  We are always actively recruiting RAYSAC and REAL Team members.

One of RAYSAC’s signature events, the annual Legislative Roundtable, is an opportunity for community members and partners to discuss laws and potential options that may give our community more tools to address prescription drug and heroin abuse.






If you would like to attend a Steering Committee meeting, contact or fill out the interest form here

Additional Resources:

NIDAEducate Before You Medicate: National Council on Patient Information and Education  | Recovery Connection  | SAMHSA (Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration)  |  Stop Underage Drinking  |  We Don’t Serve Teens  |  Addiction Center  |  Safe Teen Driving  |  Drug Free Info |  Sexual Violence Prevention (Virginia Department of Health)  |  Youth of Virginia Speak Out about Traffic Safety (YOVASO)  |  Council of Community Services  |  Family Service of Roanoke Valley  |  Prevention Council of Roanoke County