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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Alexandria Health Department at 703-746-4888. They are also available at most pharmacies. No prescription is necessary