Virginia students trained to carry overdose reversal drug Narcan

ARLINGTON, VA – In response to the increasing rate of fatal overdoses, a Virginia school district has joined the growing number of schools across the country allowing students to carry the overdose-reversal drug Narcan. Students in Arlington Public Schools are now permitted to possess Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse opioid overdoses.

To carry Narcan, students must attend a training session, such as the drop-in training held at the county Central Library. The county has organized multiple training sessions for students, where they learn how to administer Narcan. Demonstrations using a CPR mannequin show students how to react if they encounter an unresponsive person.

According to a report by NPR, Narcan Trainer, Emily Siqveland, emphasizes that even if it’s unclear whether someone is experiencing an overdose, students should still call 911 and administer Narcan. Siqveland reassures students that administering Narcan when not needed does not cause harm.

One student at Wakefield High School tells NPR he decided to undergo training to ensure the safety of his peers. The tragic loss of a classmate due to a suspected overdose earlier this year motivated him.

According to CDC data, overdose deaths among teenagers have surged by 94% from 2019 to 2020. This ongoing increase and the FDA’s approval of over-the-counter Narcan have prompted more schools to permit students to carry the nasal spray.

Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, points out that some school districts mistakenly believe that making Narcan accessible encourages drug use. Volkow emphasizes that losing someone to an overdose invalidates arguments against making Narcan available since it becomes too late to take any action.

Teenagers are at risk of accidental overdose due to counterfeit pills, such as those resembling Adderall but laced with fentanyl. The proliferation of fentanyl, along with the pandemic exacerbating mental health issues in young people, are the two main factors driving the rise in overdose rates.