School principals in Jefferson County now know how to administer a drug that reverses the effect of an opioid overdose.

According to WBRC, the principals were trained to use naloxone, or Narcan, in their last meeting. Nurses and student resource officers at Jefferson County Schools could already administer the drug.

Naloxone is used to reverse the effect of opioids to counter a potential overdose. The Alabama state health officer issued a standing order for naloxone in 2017.

According to the report, naloxone kits will be stored with AED machines in school facilities. 

Hueytown High School Principal Ryan Howard said he wants anyone who comes to school to be safe, and the training will add to the school’s preparedness. 

The opioid crisis that has impacted the nation has been especially severe in Alabama. A report conducted between Nov. 21, 2021, and Nov. 20, 2022, named Alabama the state with the seventh-highest non-fatal opioid overdose rate in the country. 

In October 2022, 1819 News investigated the prominence of opioid overdoses in Alabama. 1819 News found that opioid overdose deaths rose sharply in 2016, according to the Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council. The numbers trended downward for the next four years until sharply increasing again in 2020. Overdoses hit an all-time high in March 2021, reaching 474.

However, a more recent report by the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners claimed that physicians reduced the number of opioid prescriptions in the state by 41.6% from 2012 to 2021. The dosage strength of opioid prescriptions also fell 52.7%, but prescriptions of the opioid antagonist drug naloxone rose 851%.

According to a report specific to Jefferson County, preliminary evidence suggests at least 417 people died from overdoses in the county in 2022. At least 356 were due to opioids, the majority of which involved fentanyl. 

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are being trafficked into the United States, often from foreign countries, and mixed into other drugs like heroin, methamphetamines, and cocaine.

Drug traffickers do this because fentanyl is cheap, potent and easy to cut with other substances.

But just two milligrams of fentanyl can be potentially lethal. 

Some people who take pills or use other drugs laced with fentanyl don’t know that fentanyl is present.

Last year, a student passed away in the cafeteria of Selma High School. A toxicology report confirmed that he had hydrocodone and fentanyl in his system.

The Alabama Department of Education of Education told NBC15 in September that roughly 90% of high schools in Alabama keep Narcan on campus and that the drug had been administered at least 15 times. Schools are not required to have Narcan, but the state advises it.

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