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narcan in schools

Narcan in Schools: Benefits of Harm Reduction for Students

High School Heroin Overdoses

Narcan in schools has many parents wondering about the potential harm of innovative harm reduction measures. It’s the start of the school year. That means parents everywhere are buying their children pencils, notebooks, TI-89 graphing calculators, and opioid overdose kits.

Wait…what? Okay, parents aren’t buying their children overdose kits, but a new trend is emerging in middle and high schools across the country – they’re stocking Narcan. Narcan, the brand name for the anti-overdose drug naloxone, is a fast-acting medication that can completely reverse the effects of a heroin or painkiller overdose in minutes. Amid an ever-growing heroin epidemic, Narcan saves lives. It’s also relatively controversial and not without its fair share of opponents. Still, with heroin and painkillers killing by younger and younger people, Narcan in schools offers some serious benefits.

The National Association of School Nurses is in support of all schools in the United States stocking up on the drug.

Beth Mattey, their President, had the following to say,

“We’re facing an epidemic…People are dying from drug overdoses, opioid drug overdoses. We need to be able to address the emergency” (The Seattle Times).

Narcan Isn’t Just for Kids

That’s an important point to make! While the primary purpose of keeping naloxone in schools is keeping our children safe, it’s not just for them. It can also save the lives of a parent or school employee who overdoses. While it’s scary to think about a student’s mother, father, teacher, or principal using drugs, …it does happen.

Not to mention that students in one district in Rhode Island responded favorably to the introduction of Narcan. Kathleen Gage, a nurse at Pilgrim High School in Warwick, RI, showed juniors in a health class how to administer Narcan and what to do to get it at a local pharmacy. Far from being apprehensive or scared, Gage says students were “…really enthusiastic that this could reverse an overdose, and they would have the tool to do it” (CBS News).

Which States Have Narcan in Their Schools?

What states have approved Narcan for use in middle and high schools? Well, so far, it’s a small group. As mentioned above, Rhode Island has approved this measure. All middle, junior high, and high schools are now required to have naloxone in the nurse’s office.

Individual districts in Vermont have approved the use of Narcan. Similarly, schools in and around Hartford are now stocking the lifesaving medicine. This initiative is after an initial push not to stock the drug.

Delaware recently passed a resolution that allows schools to carry Narcan kits. According to news sources, around forty high schools in the state have received donated auto-injector kits.

Massachusetts is also on board. Nurses in over 200 school districts have received training on how to administer Narcan. Some regions are even keeping the drug on-premise. These changes can hopefully bring some relief to the many residents in Massachusetts that are in dire need of drug rehab programs.

There are also laws in both New York and Kentucky that allow school officials to carry and administer Narcan on school grounds. While there aren’t any official rules regarding having Narcan in schools, this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

What do you think about allowing schools to stock up or Narcan? Let us know on social media!

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