A string of student opioid overdoses has driven Los Angeles USD to place the life-saving opioid antidote Narcan in all of its schools—from elementary to high school, the district announced.
Those overdoses include the death earlier this month of a 15-year-old girl on an LAUSD high school campus, WTOP reported. The nasal spray, also known as naloxone, temporarily reverses the effects of an overdose from substances like fentanyl in emergency situations. Individuals who receive the drug still need immediate medical attention.
“We have an urgent crisis on our hands,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a statement. “Research shows that the availability of naloxone along with overdose education is effective at decreasing overdoses and death–and will save lives. We will do everything in our power to ensure that not another student in our community is a victim of the growing opioid epidemic.”
LAUSD will distribute doses to its high schools over the next two weeks, and expand to more campuses as more doses are received. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is providing the drug for free. Fentanyl and methamphetamine-related overdose deaths are increasing at an alarming rate in the Los Angeles area as contaminated pills containing fentanyl and other life-threatening substances become more available in the region, according to the County Department of Public Health.
The district also outlined additional drug prevention measures including peer-to-peer counseling and a new safety task force. Leaders are also launching “extensive Family Academy programming” to raise awareness and provide support to district communities. And a new Health Information Project will train high school juniors and seniors to teach health education to ninth-graders.
There have been efforts across the country to provide more schools with Narcan to respond to student overdoses. In California’s Silicon Valley, all high schools in Santa Clara County will receive doses of the drug, according to a report in the Mountain View Voice. About 60% of districts in Connecticut reported having the drug in at least one of their buildings, Fox61 reported. Harrison District 2 in Colorado was planning to provide all of its middle and high schools with the drug, according to KKTV.