School systems and law enforcement agencies across the nation are taking a stand against the heroin epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH), illicit drug use is costing the United States $193 billion annually, which includes lost work productivity, crime and healthcare. With this said, tobacco and alcohol costs total up $519 billion annually.
Teens are misusing opioid prescription pain medication and heroin, putting them at high risk for an overdose. The overdose rate in teens 15 years of age and older is still rising, even with the additional high school drug prevention curriculum. This program incorporates decision-making, communication, goal setting and problem solving lessons. Not only the curriculum focus on need-to-know information about the most common recreational drugs and binge drinking, but it also enables students in grades 9 thru 12 to develop a clear plan for drug avoidance.
Introducing Naloxone In The Baltimore School System
Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania are among the many states that are equipping their school systems with naloxone. This medication was designed to quickly and effectively reverse opioid overdose. As an opioid antagonist, it is capable of blocking other opioid effects, by binding to opioid receptors. School nurses are being trained on how to administer naloxone properly and there is talk about certifying athletic trainers in the future.
Well, Baltimore-area school systems are now joining other school systems across the nation to stop opioid-related deaths. Harford County School Nurse Coordinator, Mary Nasuta said, “We can’t hide our head in the sand, we have to realize if this is a problem in the community, it can be a problem in our schools, and we have to be ready for it.”
Anne Arundel County schools began stocking naloxone last spring in school health rooms. This was just in time for a school nurse to use the drug to save a student’s life. Arundel officials spent $12,500 to stock 125 schools throughout the county. Earlier this year, Carroll County and Baltimore County started programs, with Baltimore City and Howard County following in suit.
Parents are also encouraged to stock up on naloxone. The nasal spray version does not require any medical training to administer, but a kit that contains two doses costs around $100. To obtain naloxone, a prescription is required in some states, excluding Arkansas, New Jersey, Mississippi, Minnesota, California, Ohio, Montana, North Dakota, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and Utah.
According to the coordinator of health service for the Baltimore school system, Deborah Somerville, 28 schools, including alternative and high schools have had naloxone on hand since the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. Naloxone is only part of the strategy to combat the heroin epidemic. Educational resources and substance abuse treatment services also need to be made available to everyone.