More college campuses are making Narcan readily available for students as the opioid drug epidemic rages on.
The opioid epidemic has hit startling levels in America. Drugs like heroin are extremely dangerous and killing people all across the nation at startling rates. While college students aren’t necessarily found to be using these drugs on purpose, they have made their way into common drugs used by students, which is leading many campuses across the U.S. to make Narcan, the drug-reversing, life-saving medicine widely available.
Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts was the first university that made Narcan kits available to be administered right on campus. Soon after, others like the University of Texas at Austin and Ithica College followed in the school’s footsteps. Even state laws are now looking to make the medicine widely available on college campuses.
Following three overdose deaths at the University of Southern California in 2019, a proposed bill seeks to allocate state funds for educating adolescents about the dangerous risks of opioid use. Additionally, it would mandate that all state universities make Narcan kits available to students. In Washington, laws have already been passed that require colleges and universities to stock dormitories with the medicine.
Despite well-known upticks in the use of hard opioids like heroin and methamphetamine, most college students don’t report that they use these drugs. However, more and more illegal drugs like cocaine, Xanax, and Adderall have been found to contain lethal traces of synthetic fentanyl. These drugs are more commonly used by many college students and have been linked to college overdoses. Because of this, more colleges are considering ways that they can make Narcan more readily available if needed.
State laws often make it difficult for colleges to provide Narcan across campuses. Most of the time, students in need of the drug reversing medicine would need to travel to their campus health clinic, or a local pharmacy, hospital, or police station to obtain the medication. But an increasing number of advocates for opioid harm reduction are urging schools to make Narcan easily available in order to save lives.
One Virginia campus has come up with an innovative way to make Narcan available despite state law that restricts it from being kept in buildings for use. At Virginia Commonwealth University, the Free Naloxone Bike makes trips all around campus. Equipped with kits and a test dummy that teaches students how to administer the medicine, the electric bike is licensed to house kits.
Other schools are seeing benefits from this electric bike Narcan initiative. Programs at Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech have similarly created their own mobile stations that can hand out the product when needed. Colleges and universities don’t necessarily want to have to keep the medicine on hand, but more than ever, they are realizing how essential it may be.
The opioid crisis is affecting everyone in the nation. Today, even college students who may otherwise never even think of using such harmful drugs are falling prey to more modest ones that are being injected with deadly products. While not everyone agrees with making Narcan a solution to the growing epidemic, no parent wants to watch their child overdose on a school campus because the school didn’t have the medication quickly available.