Keene State College fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) is leading the way in opioid-related risk management with its insurance rule concerning the life-saving drug Narcan.
According to TKE President Simon Jablakow, TKE and their liability insurance mandates that they have at least two doses of the drug Narcan, a nasal spray made for emergency treatment for an opioid overdose, in their fraternity house at all times.
Jablakow said the rule is in place because of the current drug climate in New Hampshire and the rest of the country.
The opioid epidemic has been getting a lot of national attention recently, but TKE has had this rule in place for 10 years.
Jablakow said the mandate has been in the fraternity’s insurance policy since TKE was re-founded in 2007.
“We’ve always just had it,” Jablakow said.
TKE Risk Management Officer Chris Howell said KSC provides TKE with “a decent amount” of Narcan.
As Risk Management officer, Howell is essentially chief of security at the TKE house. “My job is to make sure everything goes as smooth as possible…I’m the ultimate bouncer,” Howell said.
Howell said it is his responsibility to draft the list of people who work the door and stairs during a TKE social.
He said he also has the power and responsibility to remove anyone from a social who is acting out of place or dangerously.
Howell said he likes the rule. “Having Narcan on you can never really be a bad thing,” Howell said.
Howell said while he doesn’t think anyone in TKE would ever have to be treated with Narcan, in a fraternity, you never know who could stumble into an event.
“All kinds of crazy people end up in our house,” he said. “We got to deal with it.”
Howell and Jablakow both rejected the assumptions that a rise in the availability of Narcan will lead to people disregarding the dangers of opiates; Narcan could give them another chance if they overdose.
“There’s the position that Narcan extends the life of a drug addict who’s just going to keep overdosing and causing a burden to society, but I feel that’s kind of unfair,” Jablakow said. “Addiction is a more life-threatening, life-changing experience than most people understand.”
“I understand that people may think that [Narcan] might give you a free pass to go that extra mile and take that drug because you’ll possibly be saved but nobody knows we have it,” Howell said. “It would just be an emergency situation.”
Howell said if someone were to overdose at a TKE event, his course of action is to run upstairs, grab the Narcan from his safe and administer it.
KSC Coordinator of Fraternity/Sorority Life and Student Leadership Brandon Mathieu said he could get behind expanding this mandate to all Greek life at KSC.
“I’m all about taking the next step that our social Greek organizations are doing everything they can to be on their A-game in terms of risk management and policy procedure.”
Jablakow said he thinks KSC could benefit from having regular programs that teach what Narcan is and how to apply it in a safe manner.
Mathieu said that the Greeks do an annual event called “Day of Clarity,” which promotes education and awareness around substance and alcohol abuse.
He said two years ago, the event had a Narcan training open to all KSC students.
Mathieu said the next “Day of Clarity” is scheduled to happen sometime in the spring semester.
Alex Fleming can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.