Superintendent Message Regarding Opioid Awareness

By Dr. Michele C. Reid
Superintendent's Messages
October 06, 2022

Dear FCPS Families,

As parents and caregivers, we send our children out into the world each day with hope and we trust that they will make good choices and be safe from harm. When they get home, we find the time to check in on their day. It can be hard to find the time, and we may not always get much of a response, but we never stop trying.

Northern Virginia is an amazing place to live and grow. But unfortunately, our community is not immune to an upward trend in fatal opioid overdoses among young adults and school-age children. We must be vigilant in our understanding of these trends, talking to our children about the dangers, and spotting the signs of use. Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child is so critically important.

Opioids are a class of drugs used to treat pain, and can include both prescription medications as well as illegal drugs. Tragically, their misuse can lead to devastating outcomes. Fentanyl is an especially powerful opioid that is extremely lethal, even in small doses. Most fatal overdoses in Fairfax County in recent years have involved fentanyl. Although substance use has declined among Fairfax County youth over the past several years, fatal opioid overdoses continue to rise. In 2021 there were 111 fatal opioid overdoses in the Fairfax Health District, according to the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Particularly troubling are the ways that fentanyl is being produced to resemble other prescription opioids like oxycodone, or in the case of rainbow fentanyl, to have a candy-like appearance (both pictured below).

Real and Fake Oxycodone Picture
Real and Fake Oxycodone
Rainbow Fentanyl Picture
Rainbow Fentanyl

  Images Courtesy: DEA

 To keep our children safe, suggested tips for parents include:

In FCPS, schools foster healthy life choices in our prevention and intervention programs including:

  • Substance abuse prevention taught through health education courses in grades K-10
  • Substance abuse prevention (education) and intervention (support for students who have had substance use or misuse) conducted through the Substance Abuse Prevention Specialists (SAP) Program
  • Expanding access to naloxone to designated staff in the unlikely case that someone experiences an overdose on school grounds

Learn more about the dangers of opioids and available resources on our website

For more information on Fairfax County behavioral health resources and the opioid epidemic in Fairfax, visit the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board and the Fairfax County Opioid and Substance Use Task Force. Northern Virginia is a community blessed with strong resources and support for families. If you suspect your child may be using drugs, please reach out to any of these organizations, or your school support team. Together, we can support a safe and healthy future for our children.

Warmest Regards,

Dr. Michelle C. Reid

Additional Fairfax County Resources

Informational videos about Opioids: English   I    Spanish   I  Korean

Fairfax-Falls Church CSB Emergency Services (24/7) - Available for people who have a mental illness, substance use disorder, and/or developmental disability in need of immediate help 703-573-5679

CSB Peer Outreach Response Team - Certified Peer Recovery Specialists have lived experience with mental health and substance use disorders and help people who are at high risk of opioid overdose start on the path toward recovery 703-559-3199

CSB Entry and Referral - Assessment and referral services available for youth, adults, and pregnant women including office-based opioid treatment 703-393-8500

CSB Fairfax Detoxification Center (24/7) - A short-term residential program to help adults safely detoxify from the effects of drugs and/or alcohol 703-502-7000

CR2 (24/7) - Provides rapid response to children, youth, and adults facing a mental health and/or substance use crisis. 572-364-7390

REACH (24/7) - Crisis stabilization for persons with developmental disabilities. 855-897-8278

CSB REVIVE! - learn how to recognize and reverse opioid overdoses

Safe medication storage/disposal – request a free medication lock box/drug disposal kit