Not only has the opioid epidemic been causing problems nationwide, but Pennsylvania has been hit particularly hard. The state has a significantly higher drug overdose rate than the national average, the vast majority of which includes some type of opioid.1 While many people equate this drug abuse to adults, the youth are a bigger part of this problem than many people realize. In one survey, 6% of adolescents age 12 to 17 and 12% of 18 to 25-year-olds had misused a prescription drug within the past year.2 While some adults may enter into opiate addiction treatment centers for help, teenagers may not receive this same kind of attention. In order to prevent this youth misuse from becoming another overdose death statistic, some Pennsylvania schools have naloxone on hand.
Supplying Naloxone in Schools in PA
Naloxone is a life-saving drug used to reverse an opioid overdose in an emergency situation. It can be administered by anyone, and it is believed to effectively reverse an opioid overdose 75 to 100% of time when administered by someone without a medical background.3 Not only may this drug save someone life, but also, after a near overdose, some people are persuaded to get professional help like a drug detox and treatment program.
Because of its high effectiveness as well as the large number of opioid overdose deaths in the state, there has been a push to offer naloxone in Pennsylvania schools. Over half of school nurses surveyed reported having a supply of naloxone on hand and 5.2% had to administer the life-saving drug at one time or another at school or a school-sponsored event.4 While 5% does not seem like a lot, that it still several drug overdose deaths that may have been avoided because of the availability of naloxone for these school nurses.
These numbers come after the ending of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health naloxone program for schools. This one-time program helped distribute naloxone in Pennsylvania schools but ended in March of 2018. Even though this particular program ended, there are other ways that PA schools can get ahold of naloxone. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) offers grant programs and Adapt Pharma offers free Narcan for schools that apply.
While this drug can be a lifesaver, not everyone believes that Pennsylvania schools should carry naloxone. Of the nurses who did not have a supply of naloxone at their school, almost 27% said that it was because of lack of school board support and almost 25% cited lack of administrative support.4 The exact reasons behind this lack of support were not mentioned.
As an inpatient drug rehab in PA, we have helped several young adults in their journey to get sober and overcome their opioid addictions. Do not let yourself or your child become another statistic.
If you or someone you love is addicted to drugs or alcohol, get professional help. Call Clearbrook Treatment Centers at 570-536-9621 to learn more.
- NIH – Pennsylvania Opioid Summary
- NIH – Abuse of Prescription (Rx) Drugs Affects Young Adults Most
- NCBI – Naloxone dosage for opioid reversal: current evidence and clinical implications
- Wiley Online Library – School nurse reported supply and administration of naloxone in schools