PLAINVILLE – Connecticut state colleges are now carrying Naloxone (Narcan), a medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, due to the continuing opioid crisis nation-wide.
According to the State Medical Examiner’s Officer and the Wheeler Clinic, there were 1,038 accidental overdose deaths in 2017. The first six months had 539 deaths in which 90 percent involved opioids.
“We’re fortunate that we have not seen an increase on our campuses of overdoses related to opioid abuse,” said Michael Kozlowski, Director of Strategic Initiatives for Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU). “These cases seem to be isolated and infrequent, fortunately, but the policy decision we made to supply Narcan to them was an effort at preparedness against such outcomes, even if they remain infrequent.”
All 16 state campuses were supplied with the FDA-approved nasal spray during the fall semester with training available to first responders and staff.
“We’ve been doing a lot of training around overdoses,” said Brigette Stiles, a nurse at the Southern Connecticut State University health center.
Southern is one of four Connecticut State Universities enabling police officers to act as first responders and administer the overdose medication.
“There’s training for a lot of different staff on campus just to be aware,” Stiles said. “College students experiment.”
The New Britain resident said the health center often uses the Wheeler Clinic’s Connecticut Clearinghouse in Plainville for resources, such as the recent educational forums.
Stiles was among a small local group that attended one of the monthly forums earlier this month.
“We’re really committed to getting the community on board,” said Judith Stonger, Wheeler’s vice president of prevention, wellness and recovery. “We want to keep the issue in people’s minds.”
Aisha Hamid, Connecticut Clearinghouse program manager and speaker at the forum, discussed how to obtain and use Narcan.
“They all come in two doses,” she said. “It only has an effect if the person has an opioid in their system.”
There is no abuse potential of the medication which can only be purchased by prescription at a pharmacy. At colleges the medication can be administered by first responders, similar to municipalities.
“People usually revive in about two to three minutes,” Hamid said.
By this July, every municipality will have at least one first responder trained in using the live-saving medication.
At the colleges, each of the four Connecticut State Universities will receive an initial quantity of four doses of the medication per semester. The doses administered will be replenished as they are used and/or when the shelf life of up to 24 months expires.
Each of the 12 community colleges will be provided with two doses per semester for administration on their campuses.
"It is our sincere hope that the staff at CSCU colleges and universities never have to resort to the use of Narcan on their campuses," said Mark Ojakian, president of CSCU. "Recent history, however, suggests it is significantly better to be prepared for these cases if and when they occur.
More information can be found at www.ct.edu or https://www.ctclearinghouse.org/