Amidst the usual supplies of aspirin, antihistamines, and bandages, an increasingly critical addition is finding its place in the inventory of school nurses across the nation. Naloxone is a lifesaving medication capable of reversing opioid overdoses. With more teenagers dying from illicit drugs, The National Association of School Nurses encourages schools across the country to develop a Naloxone policy.
“The safe and effective management of opioid-related overdoses in schools must be incorporated into the school emergency preparedness and response plans,” the organization states.
In Washington public schools, a state law now requires districts with 2,000 or more students to have naloxone in each high school. According to The Seattle Times, the number of doses school staff has administered has increased dramatically from two in the 2020-21 school year to six the following year and 42 in the most recent school year.
“It’s clear we need more naloxone available in the community, and schools are part of the community,” Lynn Nelson, a member of the School Nurse Corps and the president-elect for the National Association of School Nurses, told The Seattle Times.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl-related adolescent overdose deaths almost tripled from 2019 to 2021. Many of those deaths involved counterfeit prescription pills that weren’t prescribed by a doctor. In fact, as Emily’s Hope reported last week, the CDC has sent out an alert that drug overdose deaths involving counterfeit pills doubled from July 2019 to December 2021. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has also issued warnings about the nationwide surge in deadly counterfeit pills.
Unfortunately, some school districts across America have been hit especially hard. According to ABC News, two teenage girls died at Fayette Ware Comprehensive High School in Somerville, Tennessee after overdosing on fentanyl. Another teen was charged with their murder. In the Los Angeles School district alone, at least seven teens overdosed within one month in 2022 after taking pills possibly laced with fentanyl. During one of the incidents, LAPD Hollywood officers were called to Bernstein High School in Hollywood where they found two juveniles suffering drug overdoses. One of the juveniles died from what police believe was a counterfeit Percocet pill.
“[Fentanyl’s] infiltration into schools is certainly something that cannot be ignored,” Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, told NPR, “We cannot close our eyes. We cannot look the other way.”