City of Alexandria Raises Awareness of Drug Overdose and Recovery; City Hall Lights up Teal

Events recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day include distributing free Narcan, fentanyl test strips and medication lockboxes at Market Square.

Page updated on Aug 27, 2021 at 3:33 PM

City of Alexandria Raises Awareness of Drug Overdose and Recovery; City Hall Lights up Teal

 DCHS CONNECT FEATURE


International Overdose Awareness Day Web Box TealAugust 27, 2021--Join the City of Alexandria and communities around the world in support of International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31. The goal of this annual campaign is to end overdose incidents, remember—without stigma—those who have died, acknowledge the grief of family and friends left behind, and raise awareness that substance use disorders can be successfully managed with treatment. 

To show solidarity, and in recognition of National Recovery Month in September, City Hall (301 King St.) will be illuminated in teal to represent addiction recovery awareness August 29 through the morning of September 1. Throughout September, the City will continue to raise awareness and understanding of substance use disorders and recovery through events, educational efforts and opportunities for residents to help raise awareness with their families, friends and networks; visit alexandriava.gov/Opioids in September or follow DCHS on Facebook and Twitter to learn about those opportunities.

Drug overdoses and overdose-related deaths increased dramatically in 2020 across the nation and in Virginia. This increase was driven by the use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine in unregulated drugs, powders and pills. Fentanyl is often pressed into pills and combined with other substances without the user’s knowledge—consuming even a small amount can lead to an overdose.

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 an estimated 93,331, 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, with fentanyl-related overdoses accounting for 1,655 (71%) of all fatal overdoses. While opioid overdoses increased almost 36% in Alexandria in 2020, fatal overdoses decreased from 14 in 2019 to 12 in 2020. 

To help prevent overdoses, the City will distribute free Narcan, fentanyl test strips, and medication lockboxes at Market Square (301 King St.) 5-8:30 p.m. on August 29, and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-8:30 p.m. on August 30-31. 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. Storing prescription and over-the-counter medication in a locked medication box is another way to prevent medication misuse. Narcan is also available by calling the Alexandria Health Department at 703.746.4888, and can be obtained without a prescription at most pharmacies. The City also offers a mail delivery program for residents to obtain free Narcan and fentanyl test strips, which can detect the presence of fentanyl in a drug, by emailing opioids@alexandriava.gov

The City recently expanded its fentanyl test strip harm reduction program through a Reentry Bag program, which distributes the test strips, along with treatment information and resources, to individuals being released from jail.

Residents can dispose of unwanted medicines at permanent drug drop boxes during business hours at The Neighborhood Pharmacy (2204 Mt. Vernon Ave.); 24 hours a day inside the front entrance of the Alexandria Police Department Headquarters (3600 Wheeler Ave.); and from 1-5 p.m. daily in the Visitor’s Center Lobby of Inova Alexandria Hospital (4320 Seminary Road; visit inova.org/visit for hours, as the schedule may change).

DCHS 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.

To provide information regarding past overdoses or any illegal drug activity, please call the Alexandria Police Department at 703.746.6277.

Visit alexandriava.gov/Opioids for details about how to obtain Narcan and for more information.

For reasonable disability accommodation, contact maurice.tomdio@alexandriava.gov or 571.384.5244, Virginia Relay 711. 


This article is a slightly edited version of a City news release.

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