Amidst an opioid crisis, Narcan is introduced at ESD with security staff trained to administer it
Jamie Henderson, Lauren Shushi
Only 20 minutes away from ESD, at Dewitt Perry Middle School in Carrollton, staff members used Narcan to revive a student from an opioid overdose on April 4. That is the second time in recent weeks that a student’s life has been saved by administering this drug in the Carrollton ISD school district. Here at ESD, Director of Campus Security Jody Trumble helped make the decision to bring this life-saving drug onto our campus.
“I think pretty much anytime you turn on the local news in the evening, you hear about another person or another young person who has been taken by an opioid overdose,” Trumble said. “It’s sad that that person could have been saved by something that you can now get for free.”
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Narcan, or naloxone, is a synthetic drug similar to morphine which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It is designed to block opiate receptors in the nervous system to rapidly reverse opioid overdose by attaching to opioid receptors and reversing their effects. Naloxone may restore breathing to a person if their breathing has stalled or stopped due to an overdose.
“We used the Red Cross to complete our training,” Marcia Biggs, the school’s nurse, said. “There are multiple opportunities available though. The CDC has some free training. Once you complete the training, you receive a certificate of completion. We consider that approved to administer it.”
ESD received packages of the drug from an organization that has a mission to deliver and keep Narcan in schools without purchase or payment.
“Why would we not have that opportunity?” Trumble asked. “Even if we have it on campus and we never use it, which is the goal, right? It’s here forever, and [if] we never have to use it. Great. But if there was one chance that we can save someone’s life because we had this tool, then I think we would be remiss not to have it.”
This being said, naloxone should not be treated as a medicine for opioid overuse and will have no effect on someone who does not have opioids in their system.
Another factor that was considered when making the decision to bring Narcan on campus was that there might be the need at some point to administer the drug to people who might be visitors on campus.
“We have people on our campus all the time, not just our student population,” Trumble said. “We have people who come in for games and people who are here visiting, and we don’t really know anything about them. To have that tool on our campus to be able to possibly save someone’s life was really important to us.”
Opioids are a class of drug that includes synthetic opioids such as the lethal fentanyl, legal pain relievers such as oxycodone, Vicodin, codeine, morphine and illegal drugs like heroin.
Teens may run into a drug problem if they gain access to drugs by sharing or selling their prescribed medication, also known as “diversion.” The National Institute on Drug Abuse found 57 percent of 12 to 17-year-olds who abuse or misuse prescription opioids got them from a friend or family member.
Another concern is accidental opioid addiction in teens. An addiction may start after students are prescribed opioids for pain after an injury, surgery or even dental work. People can become addicted even though it is not prescribed or needed any longer. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than 10 percent of adolescents in the United States were prescribed some form of an opioid in 2018.
A way to combat this potential opioid misuse before a surgery would be to educate teenagers on pain control and the effects of the medication they are using. Encouraging them to be open about their concerns and symptoms can help to curb any potentially harmful behaviors.
“I think it’s important for people to be honest about the medications [drugs] they are taking,” Biggs said. “No stigma and no judging. If you have questions, ask a trusted adult.”
The school decided to get Narcan just to be prepared in case of an emergency.
“When you start looking at the number of incidents that happen around even just the metroplex, it was important for us to say ‘this is important,’” Trumble said. “We need to have this.”