For Immediate Release May 9, 2022
Join the City of Alexandria and communities around the nation in support of the first annual National Fentanyl Awareness Day on May 10 to raise awareness about fentanyl-laced illicit drugs, ways that residents can prevent substance misuse, and treatment resources to manage substance use disorders. Street drugs are often laced with fentanyl– an inexpensive and deadly substitute that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine– without the consumer’s knowledge.
Nationally, fentanyl-involved deaths are fastest growing among 14- to 23-year-olds. Just last week, the City issued a warning following twelve reported opioid overdoses in the city, six of which occurred in school-age youth who reported smoking little blue pills that they believed were Percocet.
Cutting fentanyl into other substances, including counterfeit prescription pills like Oxycodone, Percocet and Xanax and falsely marketing them has become common. The number of law enforcement-seized counterfeit pills made with fentanyl has increased by 502% since 2019, according to a recently released NIDA study. According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, four out of ten pills with illicit fentanyl tested in their labs contain a potentially lethal dose.
According to preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drug overdose deaths in the United States rose 29.4% in 2020 to 93,331 people, including 69,710 involving opioids. The Virginia Department of Health reported in April that overdose deaths in the state rose 41.2% in 2020 to an estimated 2,297 people, with fentanyl-related overdoses accounting for 1,655 or 71% of all fatal overdoses. Total opioid overdoses increased almost 36% in Alexandria in 2020 to 84 people, including 14 fatal overdoses, the same as in 2019.
The Opioid Work Group and the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria encourage residents to quickly and widely spread potentially lifesaving information about fentanyl and to take action to prevent medication misuse and abuse by:
Raising awareness about the importance of only taking medication prescribed by a doctor or purchased at a pharmacy.
Sharing information about the dangers associated with illicit fentanyl hidden in fake pills and street drugs.
Exploring resources available for parents and other caring adults to initiate conversations with youth on the consequences of substance use, healthy decision making, avoiding risky behaviors, responding to peer pressure, resources for treatment and recovery and more.
Spreading the word about National Fentanyl Awareness Day by visiting the website and using the hashtag #NationalFentanylAWarenss Day on social media.
Disposing of unused or expired medication via one of several safe options for disposal, including permanent medication drop-off locations, requesting a free drug disposal kit by mail for at-home disposal, and learning about methods for disposing of medication at home.
Accessing free locking medication boxes to secure necessary prescription and over-the-counter medication. Residents can obtain these devices at the following locations and times, except holidays:
o Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office, 520 King Street, Room 307, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Gun locks only. 703.746.4044
o Alexandria Health Department and DCHS, 4480 King Street, Second and Fifth Floors, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 703.746.3382
o DCHS, 2525 Mt. Vernon Avenue, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Call to verify hours due to pandemic-related operational changes. 703.746.5700
To help prevent overdoses, the City also makes available free Narcan and fentanyl test strips. Narcan is an easy-to-use nasal spray that can save the life of someone experiencing an opioid overdose, and fentanyl test strips detect the presence of the synthetic opioid. Narcan is available by calling the Alexandria Health Department at 703.746.4888, and without a prescription at most pharmacies. City of Alexandria residents can have free Narcan and/or fentanyl test strips mailed to them, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City’s Department of Community and Human Services can help locate treatment options in Alexandria for anyone dealing with substance use and is available 24 hours a day at 703.746.3636 (Virginia Relay 711). To get help with stopping the use of heroin or other opioids, call the Opioid Treatment Program intake line at 703.746.3610.
Always call 911 immediately if you suspect someone is overdosing, so that Narcan can be administered. To provide information regarding past overdoses or drug activity, please call the Alexandria Police Department at 703.746.6277.
Visit alexandriava.gov/SAPCA to learn more about ways to prevent substance misuse. Visit alexandriava.gov/Opioids for more information about Alexandria’s efforts to fight the national opioid epidemic.
For inquiries from the news media only, please contact City Opioid Coordinator Emily Bentley at 703.746.3326 or email@example.com