The student news site of Stone Bridge High School

The Bulldog Tribune

The student news site of Stone Bridge High School

The Bulldog Tribune

The student news site of Stone Bridge High School

The Bulldog Tribune

Overdoses in LCPS Linked to Fentanyl

Image source: United States Drug Enforcement Association

According to a recent statement released by LCPS superintendent Aaron Spence, there have been ten suspected overdoses across six Loudoun County high schools since the school year started. The recent cases reflect increasingly concerning national trends fueled by the highly potent opioid fentanyl. 

At least eight opioid-related cases, seven of which were reported in the past few weeks, involving LCPS students are being investigated according to a statement released by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s department. All seven cases reportedly involved fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, according to the CDC

It is believed that the overdoses were a result of taking round, blue pills appearing as pharmacy-sold oxycodone, though fentanyl can be infused in all forms of other drugs. As is often the case with fentanyl overdoses, the perceived prescription pills were laced with dangerous opioids in disguise.

“They look just like Percocet pills,” sheriff Mike Chapman told NBC. “They look like pharmaceutical-grade pills and they’re not.”

What makes fentanyl so dangerous is the extreme potency of the drug and the difficulty to detect its presence. Especially when mixed with other substances, fentanyl cannot be discerned by smell, taste, or sight.  

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 7 out of every 10 pills seized contain a lethal dose of fentanyl. Thus, many are consuming fentanyl without even realizing it—and at deadly levels. 

“Of the 2,079 child and teen overdose deaths in 2023, 53% were attributed to narcotics and hallucinogens,”  USAFACTS reported. “Of those, nearly 75% include synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.”

Being safe takes all of us.

— Dr. Timothy Flynn

The recent overdoses in LCPS are not an outlying event; they’re part of a larger national trend. While the 2022-2023 school year had a total of only four overdoses requiring Naloxone administration, the current year has matched that number already, with four out of the ten overdoses requiring one or more doses of Naloxone. 

Between January 2020 and January 2021, national overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids (primarily fentanyl) rose 55.6 percent, appearing to be the catalyst behind the overall increase of overdose deaths involving opioids, which was 38 percent.

Thankfully, Stone Bridge High School has multiple solutions in place in order to prevent and respond to possible overdose cases. During the 2022-2023 school year, three MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) teams were established. 

“We have three [MERT] teams that are comprised of our medical staff, our administrative staff, teachers, and other staff so that we can respond in the event that we have any medical emergency,” principal Timothy Flynn said. “Specifically, we’ve gotten additional training in the event there was an overdose involving fentanyl.”

In response to the increase of overdoses during the 2023-2024 school year, staff members have received additional training and conducted drills involving the MERT teams. Dr. Flynn also cited Stone Bridge’s Unified Mental Health team, which students should turn to when dealing with substance abuse or drug issues. 

“At Stone Bridge we are trying to be proactive and have the training in place,” Dr. Flynn said. “Being safe takes all of us. So, if you are in a situation where you are being offered drugs, do not take them, and you need to come and tell somebody that you trust so that we can stop this.”

About the Contributor
Jillian Wallner
Jillian Wallner, Section Editor
Jillian Wallner is a senior, a returning writer at the "Bulldog Tribune", and involved in multiple groups at Stone Bridge, including PEER and the cross country team. When she’s not hanging out with middle schoolers as a youth group leader she’s probably at the bookstore “just browsing”.