Fentanyl Crisis Threatens Festivities

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid used to treat severe pain. As the opioid epidemic expands and concern grows, fentanyl has taken a leading position.

Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, as stated by the CDC.

“A little fentanyl goes a long way. Fentanyl basically took the opioid crisis and shifted it into high gear – fentanyl is easily accessible, cheap, and highly addictive,” SRO Officer David Curcio said.

According to the US Department of Justice, in 2021, 107,622 Americans died from a drug overdose or poisoning, 66% of those deaths were due to the consumption of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. 

“Due to the nature of illegal drugs (no regulation, no purity standards), overdose is more common – fentanyl is the leading cause of overdose in the US,” Officer Curcio said.

Lacing other drugs with fentanyl is done to fuel addiction and attract more buyers.

“Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.  “Fentanyl is everywhere. From large metropolitan areas to rural America, no community is safe from this poison. We must take every opportunity to spread the word to prevent fentanyl-related overdose death and poisonings from claiming scores of American lives every day,”

Rainbow fentanyl are pills laced with fentanyl that come in various sizes, shapes, and colors. They are made to be more appealing and alluring to teens and young adults. 

One danger of rainbow fentanyl, per its design, is that it is easy for children to mistake it for candy. This is a budding concern for parents, schools, and communities as Halloween creeps up.

While the fear of children getting ahold of these brightly colored pills through Halloween candy is high for parents, experts say that Halloween candy is not the target.

The reason for making the pills look so similar to candy is to avoid detection from law enforcement.

Despite the reasoning behind the appearance of the pills, like every Halloween season, the DEA recommends sifting through your child’s candy as a precaution.

As the opioid crisis spreads across America, we recognize its effects in Annandale and at our local schools.

“So far this year, security staff have found 6 students in possession of “Perc 30s” or pills containing fentanyl that are pressed to resemble oxycodone or oxycodone pills,” Officer Curcio said.


With over 2,000 students at AHS, the sale and use of recreational drugs and opioids is something to be concerned about.

“We know that pills are being sold by students and adults in the community but also during the school day by students,” Officer Curcio said. “Because most of these transactions occur in the restrooms, and the pills are highly concealable, it has been difficult to identify exactly who is selling the pills,”.

Naloxone is a prescription medicine used to treat symptoms of an opioid overdose in emergencies. 

Narcan is the most dispensed brand of naloxone. It’s needle-free, requires no assembly, and is designed to help reverse the effects of an opioid overdose within minutes.

Following many schools across the country, on May 5th, 2022, Alexandria City School Board voted to make Narcan available in city public schools. 

Fairfax county offers a virtual training program called REVIVE! Where people can learn how to recognize the symptoms of an opioid overdose and how to administer Naloxone nasal spray.

At the end of the program, participants over the age of 18 receive a REVIVE! kit that includes Narcan, fentanyl test strips and treatment information.

Programs and additional aid regarding substance abuse in teens can be found by contacting your school’s Substance Abuse Specialist, Parent Liaison, or Social Worker.

“Residential and holistic resources for youth specifically targeting abuse of opioids are fairly scarce,” Officer Curcio said. 

The DEA observes Aug. 21st as National Fentanyl Awareness day.