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Virginia tackles skyrocketing fatal drug overdoses

Klay Porter, 32, recalls overdosing alone at his aunt’s house five years ago from heroin laced with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. He remembers slipping away and thinking “this is it.”

Porter isn’t alone. Opioid overdoses led to more than 9,900 emergency room visits in Virginia in 2020, a roughly 30 percent increase from 2019, according to the Virginia Department of Health. Fatal opioid overdoses increased roughly 260 percent in a decade, from 2011 to 2021. Fatal drug overdoses have increased almost every year in that time frame and have been the leading method of unnatural death in Virginia since 2013, according to VDH.

Fentanyl is the driving force behind the increase in Virginia’s fatal overdoses, according to VDH. Three out of every four overdoses in 2020 included fentanyl. Fentanyl is mixed with other drugs such as heroin, illegitimate prescription opioids, and cocaine to increase potency, resulting in the likelihood of a fatal interaction, according to the Drug Enforcement ...

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