Fentanyl and Opioid Awareness
LCPS is committed to raising awareness about the dangers of fentanyl and opioids. Below is some information about Fentanyl, opioids and other dangerous substances and what you can do to protect your student.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid typically used to treat patients with chronic severe pain or severe pain following surgery. Under the supervision of a licensed medical professional, fentanyl has legitimate medical use. However, illicit fentanyl is illegally made and sold as a powder, pills, liquid or nasal spray. Other drug products like marijuana, cocaine, heroin or unlawfully sold medications thought to be prescription medicine may be laced with illicit fentanyl without the user's knowledge.The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) shared that laboratory testing has indicated that seven out of every 10 pills seized by the DEA contained a lethal dose of fentanyl. A dose of fentanyl the size of the tip of a pencil is considered a lethal amount.
There are also reports of a trend among some young people of smoking Percocet, which contains oxycodone (OxyContin or “oxy”) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). When purchased illegally, this drug is also often mixed with Fentanyl. When this substance is smoked, the possibility of overdose is higher because of how quickly the drug enters the bloodstream. Parents/guardians are encouraged to review this information from the Drug Enforcement Agency about what to look for if they suspect their child is involved with drugs.
In addition to fentanyl, a new drug has emerged in our communities – xylazine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, xylazine, “also called ‘tranq’ or ‘tranq dope,’ is a nonopioid sedative and tranquilizer. Xylazine has been increasingly found in the illegal drug supply in the United States and has been involved in overdose deaths. Xylazine is often mixed with illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl, either to enhance effects or increase the drugs’ weight. Xylazine can be ingested orally, inhaled or sniffed, smoked, or injected.
People who use illegal drugs may not be aware that their drugs contain xylazine. Whether intentional or not, mixing drugs is never safe because the effects from combining drugs may be stronger and more unpredictable than one drug alone, and even deadly.
The use of xylazine causes adverse effects. Specific signs and symptoms associated with xylazine overdose may include:
Sedation effect, which can be profound and last for several hours, outlasting the effects of other substances it is mixed with.
Xylazine may also cause hypotension (low blood pressure) and bradycardia (slowed heart rate).
In combination with other central nervous system depressants (most notably fentanyl, but also benzodiazepines and alcohol), xylazine use can increase sedation and respiratory depression, increasing the risk for overdose.
This prolonged sedation can cause nerve and muscle injuries as a result of people remaining in the same position over several hours.
Xylazine has been associated with significant skin and soft tissue infections that are characterized by substantial tissue death (necrosis).
LCPS is hosting Fentanyl awareness and information sessions. The upcoming sessions are planned for:
- Thursday, Feb. 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Woodgrove High School, (36811 Allder School Rd., Purcellville)
LCPS will be adding more monthly information sessions to the calendar and continuing to emphasize the dangers of fentanyl, opioids and other drugs with our students.
LCPS middle and high school students receive information about the dangers of opioids and other illicit drugs through health and physical education classes. Student Assistance Specialists, who have mental health and substance abuse expertise, provide these targeted presentations and partner with their respective schools to plan additional opportunities, including assemblies, student-led campaigns, and classroom lessons.
School and Staff Resources
Several doses of naloxone, the opioid overdose-reversing medication are available at every LCPS secondary school (middle and high schools). In addition, several staff members at each of these schools have been trained to use naloxone, and all School Resource Officers for Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Leesburg Police Department carry it as well.
While the dangers of Fentanyl and opioids are real. Remaining informed about these drugs is an important first step. Below are some additional strategies and resources:
Talk with your children, teens and young people about the dangers of Fentanyl. Please make sure they understand the dangers of taking any substance not authorized by their own parent, guardian or doctor.
Visit the LCPS Drug Awareness webpage to find information and resources to help you understand more and speak with your student about the dangers associated with Fentanyl.
The Loudoun County Department of Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Developmental Services offers virtual and in-person REVIVE! trainings to help community members identify an opioid overdose and learn how to administer naloxone. Anyone who completes these trainings can receive a free dose of naloxone, an opioid-reversing medication.
Call local law enforcement if you or your student have seen these pills. Speaking up may save someone’s life. You can also contact the Mental Health, Substance Abuse & Developmental Services to get help for a friend or loved one struggling with substance abuse.
Loudoun County Resources
- Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine
- Centers for Disease Control's Fentanyl Facts: English |Spanish
- DEA's Facts about Fentanyl
- SAMHSA Opioid Overdose Toolkit
- Song for Charlie: Real Talk about Fake Pills
Resources about Xylazine:
What You Should Know about Xylazine. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. November 2023.
In Continued Fight Against Overdose Epidemic, the White House Releases National Response Plan to Address the Emerging Threat of Fentanyl Combined with Xylazine. White House Fact Sheet. July 2023.
Fact Sheet: Xylazine, Clinical Management and Harm Reduction Strategies for Patients, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Xylazine: What Clinicians Need to Know. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Xylazine Basics: Overdose Prevention, Harm Reduction and Wound Care. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.