Schools in Los Angeles’ Unified School District will soon be equipped with doses of naloxone, a drug used to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, Chief Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho announced Thursday.
The district’s announcement comes after Los Angeles police reported multiple overdoses among local high school students, including one who died and another who was hospitalized after being found on a high school campus last week, police said in a release. .
Carvalho said at a news conference that the district has been “deeply affected” by the recent drug incidents, which he attributed to “an unacceptable level of availability of narcotics and opioids in our community.”
“We have an urgent crisis on our hands,” the chief inspector said in a separate statement. “Research shows that the availability of naloxone along with overdose education is effective in reducing overdoses and death – and will save lives. We will do everything we can to ensure that no other student in our community becomes a victim of the growing opioid epidemic.”Read:‘Let’s get right to the violence’: New documentary film footage shows Roger Stone pre-Election Day
Commonly known by the brand name Narcan, naloxone is a fast-acting drug that can reverse the effects of opioids such as fentanyl and heroin and help restore a person’s normal breathing, according to the CDC. Naloxone usually works to combat an overdose for about 30 to 90 minutes, according to the National Institutes of Health, so medical attention should still be sought immediately.
Naloxone can be given as an injection or nasal spray and is not harmful if given to someone who has not overdosed on opioids, the CDC says.
The district currently has enough doses to supply its high schools, a process that will be completed in the next two weeks, it said in the release. As more doses are received, they will be distributed to other campuses, the district said.
District police officers will also carry doses of the treatment, Carvalho said.Read:Alabama execution called off as death warrant expires after ‘issues accessing veins’
In an effort to prevent overdoses before they happen, Carvalho said the district’s initiative also includes peer-to-peer awareness and education programs for parents.
District personnel, such as nurses, wellness center providers and trained volunteers, have already been trained or will be trained to administer the treatment, and the district will work to develop training and education for the school community, it said.
The number of adolescent deaths from drug overdoses has risen dramatically in recent years, according to a study published this year in the journal JAMA that found that teen overdose rates doubled between 2010 and 2021. More than 75% of adolescent overdose deaths in 2021 were related to fentanyl.
With drug use among teens at an all-time low, the rising overdose deaths likely aren’t due to more adolescents using drugs, but to the increasing risks of the drugs themselves, said one of the study authors.Read:Former Olathe Northwest teacher charged for sexual relationship with student
“This is not coming from more teens using drugs. It’s actually because drug use is becoming more dangerous,” said study co-author Joseph Friedman, a researcher who studies medicine and medical informatics at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Overdose deaths are also a much bigger and growing problem in the US. The CDC estimates that fatal overdoses have increased by 15% in 2021 from 2020. From 2019 to 2021, the increase was an estimated 30%.