Naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, will be made available at all K-12 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has announced.
Naloxone temporarily reverses an opioid overdose for 30 to 90 minutes to allow the victim to breathe; immediate medical attention should still be sought out even if naloxone is applied.
The move comes after multiple overdoses by high school students in the district, including a pair of girls, one dead and one hospitalized, who overdosed in a school bathroom on Sept. 13.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health will provide the doses of naloxone, also known as Narcan, at no cost to the school district. The doses are applied as a nasal spray.
The district currently has enough doses in stock to fully supply their high schools over the next two weeks. Other schools will be supplied as new doses come in.
“Research shows that the availability of Naloxone along with overdose education is effective at decreasing overdoses and death — and will save lives,” Mr. Carvalho said Thursday.
The student member of the Los Angeles County School Board, Nathaniel Shin, agreed.
“The district has no higher calling than the safety of its students. … Narcan saves lives. I look forward to continued collaboration with the community to help students make healthy choices and get the support they need,” Mr. Shin said.
The spike in overdoses is coming not from heightened overall drug use among teens, but from the use of fentanyl by drug suppliers.
The student who died on Sept. 13 thought, for example, that she was buying Percocet, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
“A lot of [the opioid epidemic] is attributable to this high potency opioid fentanyl that’s found its way into illicitly manufactured pills and to other drugs of abuse,” Brian Hurley, medical director of the health department’s substance abuse prevention division, told the Los Angeles Times.