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Alexandria, Virginia recognizes first 'National Fentanyl Awareness Day'

Just last week, the city issued a warning after 12 opioid overdoses; six occurred in school-age youth who reported smoking blue pills they thought were Percocet.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Alexandria is recognizing the first annual National Fentanyl Awareness Day Monday in an attempt to raise awareness about fentanyl-laced drugs, as well as ways residents can prevent misuse and find treatment resources.

The city is joining others around the nation to recognize the day. According to the city, fentanyl-involved deaths are fastest growing among 14- to 23-year-olds.

“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,” the city stated in a release. “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.”

RELATED: Commonwealth attorney stresses need for more mental health, substance abuse services after fentanyl overdoses

The city went on to add that cutting fentanyl into other substances while falsely marketing them has become common, including with counterfeit prescription pills like Oxycodone, Percocet and Xanax. The city said that the number of law enforcement-seized counterfeit pills made with fentanyl has increased by 502% since 2019.

The city is recognizing the day by sharing information about The Opioid Work Group and the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria and encourages residents to widely spread the following potentially lifesaving information about fentanyl and to take action to prevent medication misuse and abuse:

  • 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.

  • Access free locking medication boxes to secure necessary prescriptions and over-the-counter medication. Residents can obtain these devices at the following locations and times, except on holidays:

- 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

- Alexandria Health Department and DCHS, 4480 King Street, Second and Fifth Floors, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 703.746.3382

 -  DCHS, 2525 Mt. Vernon Avenue, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Call to verify hours due to pandemic-related operational changes. 703.746.5700

The city also makes free Narcan and fentanyl test strips available to help prevent overdoses. 

“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,” the city specified. 

The city also shared that Narcan is available by calling the Alexandria Health Department at 703.746.4888, and without a prescription at most pharmacies. Alexandria residents can have free Narcan and/or fentanyl test strips mailed to them by emailing opioids@alexandriava.gov.

The City’s Department of Community and Human Services can also help locate treatment options in the city for anyone dealing with substance use. The department 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," the city advises. "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.

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