School districts around the country are acquiring the opioid overdose antidote naloxone as the number of overdose deaths rises, ABC News reports.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 500 U.S. teenagers died from an overdose each year between 2010 and 2019. The number nearly doubled to 954 deaths in 2020, and rose to more than 1,140 in 2021.
The National Association of School Nurses advises schools to develop a naloxone policy. Kate King, the group’s president-elect, told ABC News that unfamiliarity with naloxone and the stigma that surrounds it are the biggest barriers to more widespread adoption.
“The fear is that drug users will camp out on the doorstep so that when they use opioids, school personnel will have to run out and save them with naloxone,” King said. “There’s a fear of danger after administration – that if you administer it, people are going to come up swinging and that you, yourself, are going to be in danger. There’s also fear that schools don’t want to get the bad reputation.”
Currently, 30 states expressly authorize the possession and use of naloxone in K-12 schools. Only Rhode Island requires all schools to keep naloxone on hand, according to the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association.