Opiate Overdose Prevention: Narcan Must be Normalized

The opiate overdose reversal nasal spray, Narcan, has just been approved for over the counter sales. Opioids include prescription medications, heroin, and fentanyl. Sometimes other drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamine, are mixed, or laced with fentanyl. 

β€œIt is such an important life saving medication, with really no side effects and no danger from using it, that everyone should just consider having it as a part of their first aid kit,” said Erin McKnight, medical director of the Substance Use Treatment and Recovery Program at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio to the Washington Post. β€œIt’s one of those things that you don’t realize you need until the moment arises.”

β€œPeople have access to so much nowadays it is scary,” says Principal Bob Sinclair. β€œIt is important for students to understand that you do not always know what is in that package or that edible and all it takes is a small amount of a drug like fentanyl or a high dose of THC to have a devastating impact.”

As someone who has grown up around addiction, it is essential that the use of Narcan is destigmatized and understood. It is of the utmost importance that carrying Narcan is normalized because the Fentanyl crisis is real and happening as you read this article. I have personally administered Narcan to friends and acquaintances who were overdosing. I have lost four very close friends to addiction, and know six others who have passed away due to drug use. Everyday I think of what could have happened if someone had had Narcan on them when they had found my late friends passed out. Our goal is to spread awareness and stop what happened to my friends and many others from happening as much as humanly possible. One of the best ways is the normalization of Narcan. 

β€œThere are so many people going through this stuff and it should be talked about more because then maybe people will realize the severity,” says an anonymous sophomore at Blake whose brother dealt with drug addiction. β€œHis addiction is so bad that he constantly falls into this cycle of getting better then getting worse again so he is still currently going through addiction.”

The Fentanyl crisis is not just happening in the news; it’s happening in our community. Data shared by MCPD shows youth overdoses (residents 21 and under) spiked in 2022, rising 77%. There were 48 youth overdoses last year, 11 of which were fatal. In 2021, there were 27 reported youth overdoses; five were fatal. This is just people 21 and under in Montgomery county alone. The real numbers are much higher regarding usage, especially this year. Bathroom doors are being kept open to prevent future overdoses like the ones that have happened at BCC. This is happening right now, and we as a generation need to take steps to ensure that it does not continue.

β€œI carry Narcan on me because I worry for my friends and the people around me,” says an anonymous junior. β€œSo if I ever need to save anybody, it is there.” 

As important as this may seem, there is another side that must be taken into consideration. Unfortunately, there are some who may feel more inclined to try harsh substances because they know they have Narcan to revive them. At the end of the day, a saved life takes priority over this concern, however Narcan should not be perceived as a do it all, savior medication. 

β€œIf a student needs immediate help, we should be able to give it to them,” says AP Psychology teacher Stephnie Staub. β€œNarcan is expensive and you can’t abuse it. People’s decisions to take and ingest drugs are heavily influenced by a wide variety of factors. There is very little to do with whether there is a life saving drug around.”

Introducing Narcan to the school community could mean keeping it in the emergency cabinets located around the school. Not every teacher has to carry it, but they should be trained given the extent of the drug crisis we are in right now. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, there are a plethora of resources available. Mrs Cheyenne Frenz, our school social worker is extremely informed in all things addiction and mental health. You will not get in any trouble for being honest with her in particular. Ask your counselor or a trusted teacher if you would like help to reach her directly. You can find out more about her here. If you aren’t comfortable reaching out to someone you know personally, you can call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or text HOME to 741 741. The latter does not specialize in substance abuse, but they are prepared to help with any crisis. 

β€œChanges of habits are hard, but possible,” says history teacher Pamela Rowe. β€œEven with some setbacks you can still make progress. Celebrate personal victories, especially the small ones, because they are often the ones that matter most. And finally, ask for help when you are ready to receive it.”

β€œPlease remember that that moment of experimentation or partying, that one decision in a split second can lead to a lifetime of sadness, remorse, and mourning for family, friends, and those close to you,” says Mr. Sinclair. β€œI spend every day worried about what may impact our kids, please, please, please, think before you do.”