“It Only Takes One” Focuses on Education and Support Resources to Prevent Overdoses
ICYMI: Virginia First Lady Suzanne Youngkin is launching an “all-hands-on-deck” anti-fentanyl pilot program to prevent overdoses in the Commonwealth.
As the Washington Examiner reported, the pilot program will bring together “numerous stakeholders, from the attorney general’s office and the Department of Health to community partners, including faith-based organizations, schools, and city emergency medical services.”
The program – called It Only Takes One – will be launched in the greater Roanoke area as the region “has the highest concentration of overdose deaths of any metro area in the state, and the number of fentanyl deaths in the greater Roanoke area has more than doubled since 2019.”
“Fentanyl does not discriminate,” Youngkin told the Washington Examiner. “It just does not care if you are old, young, rich, poor, urban, rural, black, white. It just does not discriminate.”
The Virginia Department of Health reports that there have been 7,000 fentanyl overdose deaths in the Commonwealth since 2020. Fentanyl accounts for three-fourths of all overdose deaths in Virginia.
The First Lady penned an op-ed in the Roanoke Times with Attorney General Jason Miyares stressing the need to address this epidemic and highlighting the importance of the It Only Takes One initiative.
“As a mother of four young adults, and father of three daughters, we share the fears of every parent, caregiver and loved ones across the country,” Youngkin and Miyares wrote. “We know that our children are not immune to the deadly substance of fentanyl. We have friends whose lives have been turned upside down by the tragedy this drug can bring.”
The First Lady and Attorney General highlight the impact the fentanyl epidemic has on Virginia’s youth, who are especially susceptible to counterfeit pills that contain the lethal synthetic opioid.
“Nearly 200 teens and college-aged youth die from fentanyl each year. Today, it’s not a matter of if your child will be offered a pill laced with fentanyl — it’s become a matter of when,” Youngkin and Miyares wrote. “These young people were taken far too soon because of a highly addictive, illicit drug. In fact, in the Roanoke-Salem area, one of the most heavily impacted regions of the commonwealth, nearly all the overdose deaths among teens and college-aged kids have been a result of fentanyl.”
The initiative comes as Governor Glenn Youngkin has made combating fentanyl overdoses a top priority since taking office.
As the First Lady and Attorney General note, “Gov. Glenn Youngkin, alongside many members of the General Assembly and other dedicated leaders, are making the eradication of illegal drugs, especially fentanyl, a priority. The Governor’s Executive Order 26 created state and local partnerships to inform and educate Virginians, especially young adults, about the dangers.”
Governor Youngkin is calling on the General Assembly to codify into law an executive order he issued last year to require school districts to notify parents within 24 hours of a student overdose, after several student overdoses in one school district went unreported for weeks. Governor Youngkin is also pushing for increased criminal penalties on fentanyl dealers whose drugs lead to a death.