The death of a 13-year-old Hartford, Ct., student who apparently overdosed on fentanyl at his school has drawn renewed pleas for schools to stock the opioid antidote naloxone, as well as for training of staffers and children on how to recognize and respond to overdoses, the Associated Press reports. The seventh grader was hospitalized Jan. 13 after falling ill at a school that did not have naloxone. City officials vowed to put the antidote in all city schools, as part of a wider drug use and overdose prevention strategy. “Naloxone should be available in all schools, and there should be education on signs and symptoms of overdose and how to use this,” said Dr. Craig Allen of Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network. “Unfortunately, a horrible incident like this happens and suddenly everyone’s vision is 20/20.”
Mayor Luke Bronin said that because of the student’s young age, an opioid overdose did not come to mind w, advocacy groups are repeating calls they’ve made for several years for schools to stock naloxone, often delivered as a nasal spray under the brand name Narcan. The powerful opioid fentanyl has been showing up in marijuana, illicit pills and other substances accessible to school-age children, experts say. Fatal overdoses in the U.S. are at record levels, fueled by fentanyl, and have been increasing among younger people. The National Association of School Nurses has advocated for naloxone to be in all schools since 2015. The association created a “tool kit” for school nurses that includes information on administering naloxone and educating the community about opioid problems. The kit has been downloaded from its website more than 49,000 times. Twenty states had laws allowing schools to administer naloxone, and seven others required schools to have naloxone-use policies as of August 2020, says the Legislative Analysis and Public Policy Association. In response to record drug overdoses, the national Office of National Drug Control Policy in November released a model law for states to consider, aimed at expanding access to naloxone.