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As we approach International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, let’s discuss something that is important for our community and state: the increase in overdose cases involving fentanyl and xylazine.

It’s crucial that we address this issue quickly in order to protect ourselves and the people we care about.

So, let’s take a look at the alarming statistics from 2022 and explore the steps we can all take to fight against this threat.

This year, there has been a significant rise in overdose cases related to the dangerous combination of fentanyl and xylazine. According to recent data from the Virginia Department of Health, there were 1,983 documented cases of overdose involving these drugs, which is a 67% increase from pre-pandemic overdose fatalities. It is heartbreaking to note that fatalities resulting from these overdoses have gone up by 90%, and are expected to continue to rise by the end of 2023.

In order to fully understand the seriousness of this situation, it’s important for us to realize how potent these substances are. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is about 50 times stronger than heroin. It is often disguised as fake prescription medications or mixed with other drugs, which makes it extremely dangerous due to its high toxicity.

Meanwhile, xylazine, a veterinary sedative, has made its way into the illegal drug market, making the danger of fentanyl even worse. It’s undeniable that this deadly combination has had disastrous effects.

We, as a community, have the power to fight against this epidemic, and education is an important part of our efforts. Please share this valuable information with your friends, family, and neighbors to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and xylazine. Encourage individuals who are struggling with substance use to seek help from local treatment centers and support groups that provide effective resources.

More important, let’s concentrate our efforts on implementing strategies to reduce harm. Let’s advocate for the availability of naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses, in our communities. Naloxone has proven to save lives in emergency situations. Additionally RACSB as well as private providers offer an array of treatment services.

The statistics for 2023 highlight the urgency of the situation, with a significant increase in both overdoses and fatalities. By educating others and ourselves about the dangers, we can create a caring and well-informed community that stands united against this devastating crisis. Let’s work together to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone in our community.

See how our community is recognizing individuals and families impacted by overdose fatalities and substance use disorders as we bring attention to International Overdose Awareness Day activities.

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