• Addiction Resources

    In Virginia, drug overdoses are the leading cause of unnatural death and have been since 2013. Opioids — and more recently, specifically fentanyl — are the driving force behind the large increases. In 2021, fentanyl contributed to 76.4% of all Virginia overdose deaths. Awareness and education are two of the best defenses against opioid misuse and overdose.

    The resources on this page provide students and parents/guardians with information about addiction, overdoses, and how to make healthy choices, especially related to opioids and fentanyl.

    Why is this important?

    Using prescription pills that weren't prescribed to you can be deadly. Fake pills are being created and falsely marketed as legitimate prescription pills. These pills often contain fentanyl, which can be deadly even in small doses. Fentanyl can be mixed with marijuana or made to look like prescription pills, such as Xanax, Adderall, or Percocet.

    What are opioids?

    The term “opioid” refers to an entire class of drug that originally derived from poppy plants. “Opioids” include prescription medications that can be legally prescribed but also have the potential for abuse and illegally produced substances that have no accepted medical use.

    Prescription opioids relieve pain. Medications that fall within this class include fentanyl, hydrocodone (such as Vicodin), oxycodone (such as OxyContin or Percocet), morphine (such as Kadian or Avinza), codeine, and related drugs.

    • Fentanyl is a synthetic (meaning human-made versus found in nature) opioid pain reliever that can come in the form of patches, lozenges, or injection, all of which are used legally in hospital settings or as directed by a doctor to treat severe pain.
    • Hydrocodone products are the most commonly prescribed for a variety of painful conditions, including dental and injury-related pain.
    • Morphine is often used before and after surgical procedures to alleviate severe pain.
    • Codeine is often prescribed for mild pain or other conditions such as coughs.

    Prescription opioid drugs have valid medical uses, but they are commonly misused/abused and can be extremely addictive.

    Fentanyl is being pressed into fake pills or cut into heroin, cocaine, and other street drugs to drive addiction. Fentanyl is 50 times more potent than heroin. Many overdoses are accidental and occur when someone takes a pill that they don't realize includes fentanyl.

    Notification of School-Related Overdoses

    Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued Executive Order 28 in November 2023. It requires school divisions to notify all parents/guardians through regular communication channels within 24 hours of a school-connected student overdose, while ensuring protection of student privacy.

    EO 28 also ordered the Virginia Department of Education to issue information to local school divisions and parents about drug education and prevention programs for students. Resources geared toward parents/guardians and students are found on this webpage.