Fentanyl Test Strips Being Given to People Released from Incarceration

Published on August 31, 2021

Beginning September 1, 2021, Arlington County will begin to distribute fentanyl test strips to individuals being released from incarceration. This new effort is in response to rising overdose numbers.

"In response to the overdose increase, Department of Human Services Program Manager Aubrey Graham has worked closely with Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative Co-Chair Emily Siqveland and the Arlington County Sheriff's Office to create emergency release bags to hand out to inmates who suffer from Opioid use disorder," said Sheriff Beth Arthur.

These bags currently include treatment resources for the DMV area, toiletries, a Metro card, and a box of NARCAN Nasal Spray, the opioid overdose reversal medication. Fentanyl test strips will now be included in these emergency release bags. These test strips are designed to test for fentanyl, a synthetic opioid often linked to overdoses.

"On average, we are identifying 20-25 individuals a month who meet criteria for an opioid use disorder. That number has slowly increased each month since we began to track this data, and I only expect it to keep rising. We want every single person to walk out of here with the tools and resources they need to be productive members of the community. Not everyone is in a place where they are ready to enter treatment, but if we can at least keep them safe, we have accomplished something," said Aubrey Graham, Jail-Based Behavioral Health Manager.

Additionally, Sheriff Arthur agreed to hang flyers in the front lobby of the Detention Center and Magistrate's office, advertising NARCAN training for community members using these areas. Jail-based DHS staff will conduct the trainings and provide community members with NARCAN. Additional treatment resources will be provided upon request.
International Overdose Awareness Day

Today, August 31, we also honor International Overdose Awareness Day (IOAD), a global event held each year. IOAD spreads the message that tragedy of overdose deaths is preventable. By raising awareness of overdose, fighting the stigma of drug-related deaths, and acknowledging the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or had a permanent injury as a result of drug overdose.

Please join us in honoring International Overdose Awareness Day this evening (8/31) at 7 p.m. on Zoom: https://securetelehealth.zoom.us/j/93797907257 (Meeting ID: 937 9790 7257).

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are numerous treatment resources available in Arlington and through the Department of Human Services.

Community members are also encouraged to prevent medication misuse or overdose by safely disposing of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medication in one of Arlington's four permanent drug take-back boxes or by requesting a free deactivation bag. For free NARCAN, e-mail narcan@arlingtonva.us.