CHARLESTON — West Virginia’s Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) within the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) will join partners nationwide in celebrating the first National Fentanyl Awareness Day on May 10, 2022. The day is designed to raise public awareness about illicit fentanyl mixed with street drugs and in counterfeit pills, which is a relatively new practice.
“Nationally, fentanyl is involved in more deaths of Americans under age 50 than any other cause of death, including heart disease, cancer, and all other accidents,” said Dr. Matthew Christiansen, Director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. “In West Virginia alone, fentanyl was involved in more than 75% of all overdose fatalities in 2021.”
Fentanyl Awareness Day coincides with the DHHR’s Office of Drug Control Policy and Bureau for Behavioral Health’s focus on overdose awareness and prevention. In an attempt to promote awareness of the rising fentanyl crisis, DHHR has committed to partner in the promotion of National Fentanyl Awareness Day through social media using #NationalFentanylAwarenessDay and #JustSayKNOW. These hashtags will correspond with posts targeted toward the public, youth audiences, parent and educator audiences, and individuals who use drugs.
DHHR encourages individuals to connect and follow the National Fentanyl Awareness Day social media accounts for updates at: Twitter: @FentAwareDay, Instagram: @fentanylawarenessday and Facebook: @nationalfentanylawarenessday.
In March 2022, Gov. Jim Justice approved House Bill 4373 to exclude fentanyl test strips from the definition of drug paraphernalia. This bill provides another resource to utilize across the state as DHHR continues to focus on overdose prevention. This resource, along with the focus on naloxone distribution, allows for more tools that assist in the goals set by the National Fentanyl Awareness Day Advisory Coalition.
For more information on fentanyl test strips and opioid overdose prevention, visit the ODCP website at https://dhhr.wv.gov/office-of-drug-control-policy/news/Pages/Legislative-Briefs.aspx or https://dhhr.wv.gov/office-of-drug-control-policy/news/Pages/Naloxone-Distribution-Toolkit.aspx.
For more information regarding National Fentanyl Awareness Day, please visit www.fentanylawarenessday.org.