Loudoun County, VA (March 29, 2023) – The last of six awareness forums on fentanyl and other opioids, and what the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO), Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), and others are doing about it, was held at Broad Run High School on March 23.
“Fentanyl is a particular danger due to its extreme toxicity, low cost of production, and availability in many easily disguised forms,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman. “Here in Loudoun County, we are committed to keeping it out of our communities and schools, and to working with our partners to ensure greater awareness and treatment options,” he added.
There have been four fatalities out of nine opioid-related overdoses in Loudoun County so far this year. Four of those overdoses were juveniles.
In 2022, there were 14 fatalities out of 66 opioid-related overdoses. Seventeen of those overdoses were juveniles, including two fatalities.
The LCPS-sponsored forums for parents, teachers, and community members began at Park View High School on February 11. Additional forums were held at Loudoun County High School on February 21; Independence High School on February 28; Woodgrove High School on March 7; and John Champe High School on March 8.
The sessions included presentations by Sheriff Chapman, 2nd Lieutenant Tom Mengel, and Sergeant Kevin O’Brien of the LCSO’s Tactical Enforcement Unit, the Leesburg Police Department (LPD), as well as representatives of LCPS’ Student Assistance Services, The Williams Center for Wellness & Recovery, and their health care collaborators.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, fentanyl is approximately 50 times more potent than heroin, and about 100 times more potent than morphine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 107,375 Americans died of a drug overdose in the 12 months ending January 2022, with two-thirds of those from synthetic opioids like fentanyl – or a combination of fentanyl mixed with another drug and unknown to the user.
Fentanyl is driving the rise in drug overdoses throughout the nation, especially among youth. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that fentanyl contributes to the death of more Americans under 50 than any other cause – including heart disease, cancer, homicide, and suicide.
LCSO and LPD School Resource Officers (SROs) are equipped with Naloxone (NARCAN) and trained to administer this medication to quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Additionally, LCPS is maintaining NARCAN in every middle and high school, and training staff in each school to administer treatment as may be needed.
Last May, in support of the first-ever National Fentanyl Awareness Day, Sheriff Chapman hosted a community forum on Fighting Fentanyl Together, with local and federal participants. DEA has announced a second national awareness day on May 9, 2023, and LCSO is planning another forum this spring.
More information on the dangers of fentanyl, and resources for students and parents, is available on the LCPS website.