A community member in Missouri suggests that public schools should keep Narcan on school premises in the event of an opioid overdose. Eric Moffitt is a citizen of Springfield, Missouri who describes himself as being in long-term recovery for opioid addiction. Narcan is a nasal spray that can be administered to someone who has overdosed on opioid drugs. Acting as an antagonist, Narcan, also called naloxone, reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. This life-saving technique is widely available to officials and regular citizens in communities throughout the country. Training and distribution of drugs like Narcan are on the rise as a primary means of opioid overdose prevention.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports:
- The opioid crisis in Missouri claimed 952 lives in 2017
- The rate of death due to opioid abuse is higher in Missouri than the national average
- Missouri opioid deaths in 2017 were 16.5 for every 100,000 people
- The 2017 death count is 11 times higher than reported deaths from opioid overdose in Missouri in 2012
There is clearly an escalating crisis that requires the attention of officials and policymakers, as well as the efforts of laypersons like Moffitt.
In-School Drug Incidents on the Rise
The opioid epidemic in teens may include access to drugs like heroin that are laced with fentanyl. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that teen drug use on school property in 2017 was about 20%. This number includes teens who were offered or given drugs on school property as well as transactions of illegal drug sales at school.
Rising statistics of drugs in school is problematic on many levels. Teen drug use can lead to many negative health problems, including:
- Immune system issues
- White blood cell reduction
- Respiratory disease
- Exhaustion or insomnia
- Heart issues
- Brain issues
- Mental health disorders
- Trouble in school or with the law
Teens who use drugs may become addicted and struggle with addiction well into adulthood. The risk of overdose is also present, as teens may be purchasing drugs of unknown origin and concentration. In the event of an overdose, Narcan being readily available on school premises could save lives.
School Officials Developing Narcan Protocol
Opioid education in schools is an important opportunity to address teens who may be struggling with drug use or addiction. Providing a better understanding of what addiction is and acknowledging the prevalence of drug use are important ways administrators and school officials can support recovery. Additionally, Narcan training for on-site use may be an important element of this support. Narcan policy and procedure for schools could be a helpful way to empower staff and teachers to provide help in the event of an overdose.
Community-Wide Overdose Prevention
The state of Missouri has multiple initiatives to address opioid abuse, many of which were formalized during multiple statewide summits in 2017. Some of the statewide work includes:
- A senate bill that limits new opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply
- Additional coverage under Medicaid for mothers who need treatment for substance abuse
- An Emergency Operations Center in St. Louis
- Community-based opioid overdose prevention programs providing naloxone
- Naloxone training
The MORE project includes drug prevention programs in schools and drug resources for teachers. This project also provides free naloxone administration training for first responders and members of the community. Multiple government and statewide resources include equipping educators and school administrators to address teen use of drugs in school.
Increasingly, ease of access to Narcan and understanding of its use provide an additional tool to resist the negative impact of opioid abuse. People like Moffitt are providing an important message that people should be empowered to help their friends and neighbors in the event of an opioid overdose.
If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, The Recovery Village Columbus can help. There are multiple treatment facilities and numerous online resources to inform and provide guidance for long-term addiction recovery. Contact us today to explore your treatment options and get the help you deserve.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “High School YRBS 2017 Results.” 2017. Accessed September 19, 2019.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. “Missouri Opioids Information.” Accessed September 19, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths.” Revised March 2019. Accessed September 19, 2019.
Riley, Claudette. “Activist, recovering addict urges Springfield district to keep Narcan in each school.” Springfield News-Leader, July 8, 2019. Accessed September 19, 2019.