Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education are releasing a Fentanyl & Opioid Response Toolkit for Schools to support educators, administrators, school nurses, students and families. The toolkit is in response to a public health crisis related to rising youth and adult opioid overdoses and deaths in Oregon.
This toolkit provides information about how schools can create an emergency protocol to administer naloxone, also known as Narcan. The toolkit includes information on how to access, administer and store this life-saving opioid overdose prevention medication. In addition, the toolkit has resources to support staff training, prevention education and other resources essential to developing and implementing school emergency response procedures.
“The resources in this toolkit can save lives,” said Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education. “We strongly encourage schools to adopt policies and practices for safe and effective management and prevention of opioid-related overdoses in schools. When drug-related emergencies occur in or around schools, proper response is critical to save lives.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from May 2020 to April 2021, deaths due to accidental overdose surpassed 100,000 for the first time on record. Sixty-four percent of those deaths were attributed to illicitly manufactured fentanyl, which often comes in the form of pills that closely resemble prescription oxycodone or benzodiazepines such as Xanax.
In Oregon, fentanyl-related overdose deaths increased by 74% from 2019 to 2020, for a total of 298 fentanyl-related deaths in 2020.
“Rising opioid overdose deaths are a public health crisis, and schools are the heart of Oregon communities. Unfortunately, this trend is expected to continue, as Oregon has continued to see an increase in accidental overdose deaths due to fentanyl,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen.
Some additional facts about fentanyl can be found on the Fentanyl Awareness Day website, here. Among the facts given on that site, “according to the CDC, fentanyl is involved in more deaths of Americans under 50 than any other cause of death, including heart disease, cancer, and all other accidents. Among teenagers, overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl tripled in the past two years, yet 73% have never heard of fake prescription pills being made with fentanyl.”