The heroin epidemic that has been plaguing New Hampshire has not gone unnoticed in the city of Keene, which has raised the question of whether or not naloxone hydrochloride (Narcan) should be available in public schools.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, Narcan in nasal spray form was introduced in November. The FDA described it as “a life-saving medication that can stop or reverse the effects of an opioid overdose,” according to their website.
Previously, Narcan was only available in injectable form, according to the FDA.
The Keene Sentinel reports that in 2015, 428 people in New Hampshire died from drug overdoses, the highest number in a one-year period in the state’s history. A bill passed unanimously last Sunday that will require hospitals to document every time someone is treated with Narcan, and whether or not they accepted a trained recovery coach.
KSC Alcohol and Other Drug Coordinator Michelle Morrow said that while heroin and other opioids may not be the most prevalent drug issue on campus, it still exists. According to Morrow, the most commonly used substances on campus are alcohol and marijuana. Morrow said that a survey conducted by the Center for Health and Wellness yielded results of less than one percent of students reported ever using heroin.
Additionally, director of Campus Safety Amanda Guthorn said that marijuana and alcohol were the most prevalent drugs seen on campus. Guthorn said that this is for various reasons, and that it is not uncommon for students to experiment with these substances.
While heroin is not very prevalent on campus according to Morrow and Guthorn, The New York Times reports that opioid deaths were up 76 percent in New Hampshire in 2014.
Guthorn said that it is more of a public health issue than an enforcement issue. “You can’t arrest your way out of a drug addiction,” Guthorn said.
Further, Morrow said she hosted an event to educate students, faculty, and community members alike about the opioid problem, as well as Narcan training.
“We gave out free Narcan kits to people who wanted them,” Morrow said.
According to Morrow, each kit comes with two doses of Narcan. She said to use half of one dose in one nostril, and then the other half in the other nostril. After waiting three to five minutes, if it has not yet worked, the second dose should be used.
However, Morrow said that the most important step was to call 9-1-1. She said that this is because the Narcan could potentially wear off while the opioids are still in someone’s system.
Additionally, Morrow said that emergency services could help someone administering Narcan. “Even if you’re trained and it’s very simple, in that moment you’re going to be nervous and anxious,” Morrow said.
As for whether or not Campus Safety should administer Narcan, Guthorn said that it is a conversation that she would be open to having, and that the decision would ultimately be made at a higher level of administration.
“We’re going to look into what we need to do in order to carry it here,” Guthorn said.
Currently, Keene Fire Department are the first-responders for serious medical issues such as an overdose, according to Guthorn.
Keene Police Department was contacted, but could not comment before deadline.
KSC President Anne Huot was contacted through Director of Strategic Communications and Community Relations Kelly Ricaurte, at Ricaurte’s request. Ricaurte responded that Huot declined comment because KSC administration does not have a stance on the topic.
Devon Roberts can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org