Fentanyl in the spotlight at the RAYSAC roundtable

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) – Drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death among young adults. This is a national measure from the Centers for Disease Control. And here in West Virginia, professionals on the front lines of addiction prevention are also sounding the alarm.

On Friday morning, the Roanoke Area Youth Substance Abuse Coalition, also known as RAYSAC, hosted an online roundtable on law enforcement, harm reduction and the work of a local drug court to bring people on the road to recovery.

But much of the discussion has centered on the drug Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.

Joseph Carucci is the resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Roanoke.

“It takes just under two of those grains to kill a person,” Carucci said, referring to a photograph of the drug. “So think about it for a moment.”

He said Mexican cartels mix all types of illegal drugs with fentanyl to make them more addictive, and users often have no idea what they’re ingesting.

“What you see and hear in the news is just the tip of the iceberg,” Carucci said. “It’s here. It’s in the Roanoke Valley. It’s everywhere in all of our areas of responsibility.

Other participants in the RAYSAC roundtable echoed Carucci’s concern.

Lisa Via is the Comprehensive Harm Reduction Program Coordinator for Drop in Center North with the Council of Community Services.

She works with several hundred people in Roanoke.

“All of my participants who test their drugs, 99.9% of them come back positive for fentanyl,” Via said. “Overdose rates, as we all know, are skyrocketing. I see him every day. I see him every week. In one week, we lost ten long-time participants to an overdose.

The roundtable included encouraging reports on prescription drug take-back programs and the new drug abuse court in Botetourt County.

But the speakers also issued a stark warning about another powerful drug called Xylazine that is heading our way.

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