It's well known that fatal drug overdoses are rising every year in the United States. Most of these overdoses come from opioids, including prescription painkillers. In fact, prescription painkillers are involved in half of all fatal overdoses in the United States.
One Illinois school districts is making headlines by announcing that their school nurses may soon be equipped with anti-overdose drugs like Narcan.
Recent Heroin Overdoses Among High School Students
The initiative to begin equipping nurses with Narcan came soon after two students in DuPage County almost overdosed. In other incidents, 42 other students have also been saved from fatal overdose in the last year.
In response to these overdoses, Illinois lawmakers passed a bill through the House. It would expand access to Narcan, which is an effective antidote to heroin or opioid overdose. Critics of the bill, and of Narcan in general, claim that it actually encourages risky behavior for addiction.
What Is Narcan?
Narcan is also called naloxone, which is the generic name. It's found in almost every hospital in the United States. For any hospital that administers opiates, naloxone is actually required to have on hand as a basic healthcare service.
Naloxone offers a number of advantages for medical personnel trying to treat overdose and addiction:
- poses no medical risk
- has no effect if someone's not overdosing
- is not addictive
- does not offer any kind of high
Narcan and naloxone are already widely available to key people, including first responders, EMTs, and police officers. Expanding access to naloxone is important as overdoses continue to increase.
Overdose Antidotes Offer Second Chance
In response to critics of the new bill, the DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgenson said "The first step in recovery is not death. If you have an overdose and you die you have no chance for redemption, no chance to become a productive citizen again."