Oct 5, 2022 - News

Des Moines schools stocking Naloxone to fight opioid overdoses

Narcan nasal spray

Narcan nasal spray. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

The Des Moines School District will stock at least two doses of Naloxone spray in every building. The drug is used to reverse opioid overdoses.

Driving the news: The school board approved a new program Tuesday night that requires the district to annually stock Naloxone.

  • It could have been used 11 times to help students in schools last year, according to the district.

How it works: Naloxone is a rapid-working medicine that reverses an overdose by "ejecting" opioids from receptor sites on the brain.

  • Breathing typically returns in just two to three minutes.

What they're saying: Having Naloxone on hand could have helped an impaired student who admitted to "taking something" during his lunch period and passed out, said Hoover High School nurse Margaret Matijevich.

  • While the student woke up on his own, Matijevich says it could have given her another life-saving option.

The big picture: In 2021, there were 258 opioid-related deaths in Iowa, up from 157 deaths in 2019 and 213 deaths in 2020, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

  • But that number would be much higher if Naloxone did not become prevalent in recent years, according to a report by the IDPH.

Be smart: Fentanyl is one of the leading causes for an explosion in opioid overdoses in the U.S. It is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine and is often disguised as other common drugs for ADHD, pain or anxiety.

  • Experts advise parents to warn their children that illegally obtained drugs can contain fentanyl and even a small amount can kill them.

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