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Alexandria Starts Program To Prevent Opioid Overdoses Among Former Inmates

Narcan can help save someone’s life if used immediately following an opiod overdose. It is being given to Alexandria inmates upon their release as part of a new program to combat overdose. (Photo courtesy City of Alexandria/Zebra Press file photo)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Research has shown that the weeks following release from jail can be difficult for former inmates with a substance use issue. Upon release,, their tolerance for a substance – especially opioids – will be reduced.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, untreated individuals often return to using at pre-incarceration levels, which increases risk of overdose and death. To support individuals reentering the community, the City of Alexandria has begun a new program aimed at education and overdose prevention.

The Reentry Bag Program distributes substance use and peer information, along with fentanyl test strips and Narcan. Narcan is a nasal spray that can save someone’s life if used immediately during an overdose. Fentanyl test strips detect the synthetic opioid, 100 times more potent than morphine.

The program is the first of its kind in Virginia and one of a few in the country. It is a collaboration between the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Community and Human Services.

This is the latest effort to combat substance abuse and opioid misuse in the city. Earlier this month, the test strips were distributed to residents at Friends of Guest House. In May, the Opioid Work Group launched a regional harm reduction program to distribute fentanyl test strips in partnership with The Chris Atwood Foundation. The goal was to lower overdoses.

Residents can obtain Narcan and the fentanyl test strips for free by emailing opioids@alexandriava.gov or calling the Alexandria Health Department at 703-746-4888. They are also available at most pharmacies. No prescription is necessary

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Kevin Dauray

Kevin is Publisher's Assistant with The Zebra Press. He has been working for Alexandria's "Good News" newspaper since 2019. A graduate of George Mason University, he earned a bachelor's in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. He is an alumnus of T.C. Williams High School. Go Titans!

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