Jan 25, 2022 - Health

Student's death renews calls for schools to stock opioid overdose drug

A packaged nasal dose of naloxone.

Photo: Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

A Connecticut student's death has renewed calls for schools to stock and administer naloxone, a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

Why it matters: U.S. drug overdose fatalities reached six figures in a 12-month period for the first time in November, and synthetic or natural opioids were the cause of a majority of the overdoses.

Driving the news: A 13-year-old student in Hartford, Connecticut, died of an apparent fentanyl overdose on Jan. 15 after falling ill at a school that did not have naloxone on hand, AP reports.

  • After the student death, city officials promised to stock naloxone in Hartford schools, and advocacy groups said it demonstrated why the drug and overdose response training are needed in schools.

What they're saying: "[National Association of School Nurses] supports safe and effective management of opioid-related overdoses in schools through incorporating emergency rescue medication into school emergency preparedness and response plans," the association said in a statement Monday.

  • The association said it doesn’t have data on the number of schools and school districts who currently have adopted naloxone use and training in schools.
  • NASN has advocated for naloxone use in school settings since at least 2015.

By the numbers: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in December that drug overdoses among people between ages 15 and 24 increased by 49% between 2019 and 2020,

  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimated that at least 3,391 people between 15 and 24 died from opioid overdoses in 2019, it's unknown how many of those deaths occurred in schools settings.

The big picture: At least 27 states had passed laws that at minimum required schools to create a policy concerning the use of naloxone as of September 2020, according to a report from the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association, an advocacy group.

  • At least twenty states allowed schools to possess naloxone and to administer naloxone but did not require them to do so.
  • The Office of National Drug Control Policy released a model law in November that, if adopted by states, would expand access to naloxone overall, including in schools.
  • The law would require public schools, including colleges and universities, to appoint a risk management officer that would stock and administer the drug and would allow the institutions to train other staff members to do the same.

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