Written by Kelsey Hoeller, Student Assistant for the Ohio State University’s Collegiate Recovery Community
In April 2017, Adapt Pharma and the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Health Matters Initiative (CHMI) announced college campuses would be able to receive free doses of the overdose prevention drug, naloxone. This partnership will “[expand] awareness, education and access to naloxone” on college campuses. The program, which has already been implemented in high schools, aims to decrease opioid-related deaths among students across the country.
Naloxone, also known by the brand-name Narcan, reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. It is available as an easy-to use nasal spray; only a brief training is needed to be able to administer this form of naloxone. It is important to remember that medical attention and evaluation are still needed immediately after naloxone is administered. When the drug is administered, it halts the effects of the opioids on the brain and helps the person resume breathing within a few minutes. Side effects with this drug are rare; naloxone is not psychoactive or addictive and cannot be used to get “high”. In the event someone who has not overdosed on opioids receives naloxone, they would not experience any negative effects. Naloxone is safe, easy to use, and has the potential to save many lives.
Colleges and universities in Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey, and other states already sell naloxone on campus. In addition, several campus police departments have instructed their officers to carry naloxone. Increasing access to naloxone on college campuses is an important step in preventing opioid overdose deaths. This allows Good Samaritans to treat overdoses while they wait for first responders to arrive. Early intervention is crucial in preventing overdose deaths.
Student affairs professionals can advocate for increased access to naloxone in multiple ways. For example, the University of Texas trained all residential advisors and campus police officers to administer the drug. By offering free training sessions, colleges and universities can increase the campus community’s knowledge about opioids and overdose death prevention. Hosting community information sessions on naloxone is another way to increase awareness. As knowledge about using naloxone rises, support for greater access to naloxone on campus will likely also increase. Encouraging police officers to carry naloxone on- and off-campus can also make a huge difference. When someone overdoses, police are usually the first people on the scene. The ability to administer naloxone immediately would help officers save lives. If your institution has a chapter of the Generation Rx Initiative, consider partnering with this group to host drug take-back events, deliver presentations on prescription drug misuse prevention, advocate for Good Samaritan policies, and take advantage of pharmacists’ passion for saving lives. These are only a few ways student affairs professionals can advocate to increase access to naloxone on campus.
Thanks to the efforts of Adapt Pharma and the Clinton Foundation, naloxone is currently available for every high school in the United States and institutions of higher education will soon be offered the same opportunity. Narcan nasal spray is also available to public agencies or non-profit organizations in the United States through this program. If your institution is interested in this program, please fill out an online application.