Naloxone in public schools can save lives

Eva Philips, Staff writer

A new proposal is under consideration in the Pennsylvania state legislature that could be a matter of life or death for teenagers in the state.

This legislation would require all public high schools in the state to possess a supply of naloxone.

Naloxone is a drug used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It can reverse the effects of drugs like fentanyl, morphine, heroin and prescription opioids.

It works by attaching to opioid receptors to prevent opioids from affecting a person. While it is not a long-term treatment for addiction, it is a fast-acting drug that can be administered via nasal spray to save the life of a person suffering from an opioid overdose, often by restoring their ability to breathe.

Naloxone can be administered by injection, but nasal spray administration is also safe and effective. It can be easier for non-medical bystanders to use quickly in the event of an overdose.

Naloxone alone is not enough to completely prevent negative effects from an opioid overdose.

After it is administered, the affected individual should receive professional medical care as soon as possible. Additionally, the individual may experience physical withdrawal symptoms after receiving a dose of naloxone, but this is minor compared to the risk of death by overdose that could result if naloxone is not administered.

The opioid epidemic has plagued the nation for years, causing over half a million deaths in the past thirty years.

Deaths from opioids numbered over 80,000 in 2021, an increase over 2020. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is more powerful than prescription opioids and heroin, are especially concerning.

Pennsylvania counted approximately 5,000 deaths resulting from opioid overdose in 2021 alone.

Clearly, this is a severe crisis that needs to be addressed.

Previously, Pennsylvania lawmakers attempted to pass similar legislation.

In 2017, they created House Bill 1774 to require public schools to contain naloxone as a first-aid medical drug. However, the bill encountered opposition from Republican representatives.

This time, the state legislature has a more even balance between Republicans and Democrats.

Additionally, the toll of the nationwide opioid epidemic has only continued to grow in the past several years, making it harder to ignore the crisis at hand.

The legislation to require naloxone in public schools would make the life-saving drug available to over one million public school students.

These students are young and have their lives ahead of them, and they should have every resource available to them to ensure their health and safety.

Some people might argue that this is a waste of funding, or that it is not truly necessary because high schoolers seem less likely to suffer from opioid addiction.

Even more appalling, some might claim that naloxone should not be administered because the individual who receives it will eventually overdose again.

However, these arguments ignore the fact that addiction is not a personal choice, nor is it a moral failing.

It is a disease that affects countless Americans and causes untold suffering. Therefore, the cost of this proposal is certainly worth it.

Even if this legislation only saves the lives of a few individuals, human life cannot be reduced to a simple monetary value.

Every person deserves the chance to live a good life.

This bill, if passed, could be the difference between literal life and death, and it should be considered with appropriate gravity.