SLTF, DCDHHS to observe National Fentanyl Awareness Day – OBX Today

SLTF, DCDHHS to observe National Fentanyl Awareness Day - OBX Today
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In an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of fentanyl, the Saving Lives Task Force (SLTF) and the Dare County Department of Health & Human Services (DCDHHS) join organizations and communities across the United States on Tuesday, May 7 in observance of the third annual National Fentanyl Awareness Day.

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, is a major contributor of fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the United States. Illicitly-manufactured fentanyl is on the drug market in different forms and commonly mixed with drugs like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, or made into pills that resemble other prescription opioids and benzodiazepines.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services, 12 North Carolinians died every day in 2022 from overdose – many who unknowingly ingested illicit fentanyl that had been mixed with, or disguised as, other drugs. In Dare County, it is estimated that more than 80 percent of overdose deaths can be attributed to illicit fentanyl.

“It is imperative that we continue our harm reduction efforts, raise awareness around the dangers of opioid use, and reduce the stigma surrounding substance use,” said Roxana Ballinger, SLTF co-chair and director of DCDHHS Health Education and Outreach. “We are committed to educating the public about overdose prevention and how we all can play a role in combating this public health crisis.”

During 2023, 2,556 Naloxone kits were distributed in the community along with 2,338 fentanyl test kits. In addition, 12 local businesses have participated in harm reduction efforts by providing Naloxone and Fentanyl test strip kits and medication lock boxes at their establishments. During the last two quarters of 2023, Dare County has seen a drop in overdose deaths, leaving officials optimistic that local harm reduction efforts and robust overdose response programs are paying off.

For more information about the Saving Lives Task Force or to find resources, please visit To learn more about DCDHHS and its Recovery & Overdose Services Program, email or call 252.473.7861.