Youngkins recognize May 9 as Fentanyl Awareness Day

May 13, 2023
Governor Glenn Youngkin Suzanne Youngkin

RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin, First Lady Suzanne S. Youngkin, and state and local officials recognized May 9, 2023, as National Fentanyl Awareness Day in Virginia with the signing of a sweeping executive order and a series of events to fight the fentanyl and opioid crisis.

The fentanyl epidemic is both a national security concern and a serious public health emergency. As a result, Governor Youngkin signed Executive Order 26, effective immediately, which directs the launch of a new comprehensive fentanyl-fighting strategy across public safety, prevention, education, and treatment, and includes structural changes to better position Virginia’s government to fight the epidemic. The executive order comes on top of the Governor’s Right Help, Right Now plan to transform behavioral health, which includes a critical goal to reduce opioid overdoses in Virginia by 20 percent.

“Fentanyl poisoning has devastated families and communities across Virginia. We cannot stand by as Virginians lose their lives when there are steps we can take to combat this deadly fentanyl poisoning crisis. We must act,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “I am confident that together these measures are significant steps to reduce the occurrence of fentanyl overdoses and deaths in the Commonwealth.”

One critical tool highlighted by the Governor during Fentanyl Awareness Day is REVIVE! training, which prepares Virginians on how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose emergency using naloxone. Naloxone is a prescription medicine that reverses opioid overdoses by temporarily blocking the effects of opioids until first responders arrive. REVIVE! training is offered to anyone interested in preventing and reducing opioid overdoses, and Virginia has worked to make naloxone readily available. In all, about 60 REVIVE! trainings and events in Virginia communities were held on May 9 in an effort to curb the opioid and fentanyl crisis throughout the Commonwealth.

“Fentanyl is poisoning Virginians and Americans, and losses have become far too familiar,” said First Lady S. Suzanne Youngkin. “Last year, thousands of Virginians lost their lives to fentanyl poisoning, and Glenn and I have grieved with personal friends over the loss of loved ones. Every single Virginian has a role to play in the important work to curb the opioid crisis that is impacting our Commonwealth. Through a comprehensive strategy that focuses on the needs of our most vulnerable, we aim to find solutions and destigmatize conversations as well as spread awareness about life-saving naloxone mist.”

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is approximately 30 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. According to the DEA, Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug threat facing this country: just two milligrams of fentanyl, which is equal to 10-15 grains of table salt, is a lethal dose, and without laboratory testing, there is no way to know how much fentanyl is concentrated in a pill or powder. Nearly 94 percent of all fatal opioid deaths in Virginia in 2020 were unintentional. In 2021, fentanyl caused or contributed to over 76 percent of all opioid overdose deaths in Virginia. Over the last three years, more Virginians passed away from fatal drug overdoses than motor vehicle and gun-related deaths combined. Drug overdose is the leading cause of unnatural death in Virginia.

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