ARLINGTON COUNTY, Va. (DC News Now) — Police said a student was unconscious in a bathroom at Wakefield High School as the result of a drug overdose Tuesday morning.
The Arlington County Police Department said officers and other emergency workers went to the school, located in the 1300 block of S. Dinwiddie Street, around 9:30 a.m. after receiving word that the boy had been found.
First responders administered emergency medical aid before transporting the student to the hospital. His condition was considered critical.
Medics evaluated four other students at the scene.
Serious concerns about opioids in schools were raised in 2017, which led to the formation of the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative (AARI), a group of stakeholders including first responders and treatment providers.
AARI has partnered with the county’s school district to discuss solutions, but Tuesday was a reminder of the work that still remains.
“It’s definitely disconcerting and something we’re really prioritizing,” said Suzanne Somerville, the bureau director of the Arlington County Department of Human Services.
Somerville said that the partnership has been helpful. The group gives out Naloxone — commonly known as Narcan — which is the only way to reverse an overdose. It also distributes fentanyl testing strips so those who are using pills can know what they’re taking.
She believes those harm reduction strategies have been the best tool, but education and messaging are also crucial.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re going through something emotionally,” she said. “But do be afraid to try pills or things like that.”
It’s a problem DC News Now has reported on in Montgomery County, Maryland after multiple cases, but it exists across the region.
In the last week, there have been student overdoses in Culpeper County, Va., Montgomery County, Md., and now Arlington County, Va.
Plus, Prince George’s County, Md., and Prince William County, Va., offered official warnings after student overdose deaths in their communities over the last few weeks, though they did not occur in schools.