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After success in Roanoke, fentanyl awareness campaign to roll out statewide later this year

From left to right, Attorney General Jason Miyares, First Lady Suzanne Youngkin and Cynthia Morrow — director of the Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District — talk up the successful "It Only Takes One" campaign.
Nick Gilmore
/
Radio IQ
From left to right, Attorney General Jason Miyares, First Lady Suzanne Youngkin and Cynthia Morrow — director of the Roanoke City-Alleghany Health District — talk up the successful "It Only Takes One" campaign.

Virginia’s First Lady and its Attorney General rolled out a fentanyl awareness campaign in Roanoke earlier this year. And there are positive trends – both in that city and statewide.

Since its launch back in January, more than 500 adults in the Roanoke region have signed the “It Only Takes One” campaign pledge to talk to a teen or child in their life about the dangers of fentanyl.

Attorney General Jason Miyares says that’s important because it’s only a matter of when – not if – a child is offered something laced with the drug.

“And they’re never offered fentanyl. It’s always a Percocet, a Xanax, an Adderall – your child always thinks they’re taking something else – something counterfeit," he says. "75% of these pills on the street that are counterfeit are laced with fentanyl.”

When the multimedia campaign was launched, Roanoke had the highest concentration of overdose deaths of any metropolitan area in Virginia. And while the city – and the Commonwealth as a whole – have more work to do, First Lady Suzanne Youngkin says state and local efforts are working.

“We saw 2022 numbers at 22.9 for every 100,000 Virginians. And in 2023, that was 20.6 for every 100,000," Youngkin says. "It’s not as big [of] a decrease as we would like, but it is going in the right direction.”

Because of the success in the Roanoke area, Youngkin says the Virginia Department of Health has committed to begin rolling out the “It Only Takes One” campaign statewide this fall – with a continued emphasis on at-risk communities.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Nick Gilmore is a meteorologist, news producer and reporter/anchor for RADIO IQ.