Alabama High Schools Can Now Administer the Opioid-Overdose Reversal Drug Naloxone
A new state-wide program will now allow Alabama high schools to administer the Opioid overdose reversal drug, Naloxone. The state is the first in the nation to train administrators, coaches, and teachers to use the lifesaving drug. First proposed by the Alabama Department of Education due to the state’s high rates of Opioid abuse, medical groups like the Alabama Board of Nursing and the Alabama Board of Pharmacy worked closely with state agencies to develop the new training program. According to the CDC, more than 400 Opioid-related overdose deaths were reported in the state of Alabama in 2017.
The medication is only given to people who are unconscious due to an Opioid overdose. Naloxone is available as either an injectable, auto-injectable, or prepackaged nasal spray – administration in Alabama schools is taught via auto-injectable. Much like an EpiPen, the auto-injector prevents any error in dosage and comes with written instructions on when and where to apply the necessary dosage.
According to state nurse administrator Jennifer Ventress, once the medication is administered, the student or person receiving it must go to the emergency room for a medical evaluation. The state also recommends people who receive the medication to stay in a central location where personnel can easily access them, as recipients of the drug may become aggressive or feel too ill to transport themselves to the hospital after Opioids have left their system.
Benefits of the Program
Although there are obvious benefits to the program, there is some objection to the money that the Alabama Department of Education is spending on training. Opponents draw attention to the fact that schools are in dire need of supplies, increased teacher pay, and a variety of other issues that these funds could be allocated towards.
Alabama State Schools Superintendent Eric Mackey responded that student health is the agency’s biggest priority, and that without healthy students “there would be no good academic outcomes.” School officials further state that the program is not only for the safety of students; Naloxone can be used on anyone who comes onto high school campuses for any number of events, including sporting games and choral recitals.
Although the drug costs $178 per dose, it is all paid for with no cost to the taxpayer. The program is funded by public grant and allows for one to five applications of the medication per high school throughout the state. Alabama is one of the only states to develop a training program that allows Naloxone to be given by people other than school nurses, which may save hundreds of lives in the midst of the Opioid Epidemic.