Narcan available in US schools to treat drug overdoses


Narcan (naloxone) has been available for many years to reverse the effects of overdoses of opioids (narcotics) such as oxycodone (Oxycontin), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and morphine, as well as the illegal drug heroin. Narcan is given by doctors or nurses as an injection or through an intravenous line (into a vein). Last November, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Narcan nasal spray. This easy-to-use nasal spray allows emergency medical personnel, police officers, healthcare professionals, and lay people in the community to quickly treat someone with a suspected drug overdose.

Although drug overdoses in school-aged children are rare, the drug manufacturer, Adapt Pharma, announced in January 2016 that it will offer Narcan nasal spray free to all US high schools though state departments of education. Products have already been shipped to schools in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire. More is expected to be shipped to schools in other states this fall. Rules need to be established to allow high school staff to administer the drug in an emergency without facing liability from parents or guardians.

In 2015, the National Association of School Nurses adopted a position statement concerning the use of Narcan in schools. The position states that nurses should be aware of local and state policies on how to access Narcan and make it part of their school emergency response protocol. School nurses are a valuable resource in providing awareness and education about the dangers of opioid misuse and substance abuse to students and their families. They can teach family members to recognize signs and symptoms of misuse and substance abuse, guide them to locate resources, and assist in making referrals for treatment.

Here’s what you can do: Even if you don’t think this will ever happen to you, to your child, or in your community, learn about the drug overdose crisis. Attend educational events in your community and at your school. Talk to your children and family about the appropriate use of all medicines and the use of illegal drugs. Talk with your school nurse and school administrators about their efforts to address substance abuse. Ask about the availability of Narcan within the schools and who will be trained to administer it.

Created on October 7, 2016

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