Overdose deaths among teens have been increasing, prompting the Biden administration to call on schools to purchase and carry the opioid overdose antidote naloxone, according toEducation Slice / NPR.
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Dr. Rahul Gupta and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona wrote a joint letter urging every school in the United States to have naloxone available.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, for over-the-counter use. Naloxone works by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain and restoring breathing.
In the past two decades, more than 5,000 children and teens have died from fentanyl overdoses, with more than half of those deaths occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Never would I have imagined that students would today have contact with a substance where even just a small bit of a pill could kill you,” says Alberto Carvalho, superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
LAUSD, the second largest district in the country, is an early adopter of using naloxone in schools. The 2022-23 school year was the first year they stocked it in all schools. The move came in response to a 15-year-old student dying from an overdose in a school bathroom nearly a year ago.
Last school year, naloxone was administered 31 times in the school system. “That’s 31 times that we possibly saved a life,” Carvalho says.
Which may sound like a big number, but in Prince George’s County, Md., schools outside Washington, D.C., officials there used it even more.
“I’m going to say 45,” says Richard Moody, the director of alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention intervention for the district. That’s more than once a week.
Prince George’s County officials are trying to get naloxone everywhere they can. This year is the first time it’s officially in every schools, and, like LAUSD, the district is now allowing students to carry the spray themselves.
A national movement to get naloxone in schools is gaining momentum. An NPR analysis found that, last school year, only 5 of the 20 largest school districts in the country stocked naloxone in all of their schools. This year, 11 of 20 do. Three more told NPR that getting the medicine in every school is a priority.
Education Slice / NPR