An epidemic of opioid overdoses has become a pressing public health crisis, affecting communities around the world. As the number of opioid-related deaths continues to rise, it becomes increasingly important to address this issue comprehensively. One crucial aspect of this battle is ensuring the availability of a life-saving medication called Narcan (a brand name for Naloxone) that can reduce or reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.
Opioids—which include prescription painkillers, heroin, and synthetic opioids like fentanyl—have become a leading cause of overdose-related deaths. Overdoses can quickly become fatal, as the drugs depress the central nervous system, leading to respiratory failure. Narcan is an “opioid receptor antagonist” that can rapidly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, restoring normal respiration. Its effectiveness and speed of action make it an invaluable tool.
SCOE Staff to Be Part of the Solution
Lauren Werner, a representative from the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society, spoke to Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) staff during today’s annual in-service event that kicks off the new school year. SCOE’s Prevention & Early Intervention department teamed up with the oldest medical society in California to help staff learn about the overdose epidemic and what they can do to potentially save lives. Werner explained when Narcan nasal spray should be administered—after first calling 911—and the three-step process involved in safely reducing the effects of a suspected opioid overdose.
The speaker cited overdose and fentanyl poisoning statistics. She noted that online access makes opioids more easily available to youth and stressed the importance of making Narcan available to anyone working around children. “It is extremely important for us to have the ability to respond,” Werner solemnly told staff. “It’s much easier to have difficult conversations [now] than wish you could bring someone back from the dead.”
SCOE employees already have easy access to Narcan in central locations, and key staff have received training on its use. All staff are now being provided with usage information and being encouraged to individually keep Narcan on hand to be able to respond to emergencies.
Empowerment Through Education
Opioid overdoses continue to claim lives, devastate families, and strain communities, but helping make Narcan widely available is one way the education community can help. Education itself is another critical part of addressing opioid abuse. By raising awareness about the risks of opioid use and the availability of Narcan, individuals can be better prepared to respond to emergencies.
SCOE Prevention & Early Intervention Coordinator Joelle Orrock will be a presenter at a Fentanyl Awareness and Action Summit that will be offered at CSUS next week on August 17.
Other SCOE-involved education efforts include:
- Sacramento County Coalition for Youth—works to educate parents, teachers, and adults by providing information and conducting an annual Prevention Summit
- Sacramento Ambassadors for Change (SAC)—a component of the Sacramento County Coalition for Youth that helps youth share information via social media to educate and encourage their peers
- “Talk. They Hear You.” Campaign—encourages parents to talk to their kids about substance use and provides tools and resources for parents