The opioid epidemic in this country continues to rage on. In a move that signifies what a problem it is within our youth, an Iowa school district has decided to make available medicines used to counteract an opioid overdose.

The Des Moines Register reports that the Des Moines Public School District will join other schools around the nation and will keep medications on hand to treat suspected opioid overdoses. The Des Moines school board unanimously approved a policy at their meeting on Tuesday night that would allow school nurses and select staff members to administer naloxone, also known as Narcan. It is a powerful medication that can reverse the deadly effects of an opioid overdose.

When I first read this story, I thought to myself, is there really a need for this in Iowa schools? The sad answer is, yes. The Register reports that according to school documents officials cite 11 times in the 2021-22 school year where school nurses would have used naloxone on students if it had been available. Fortunately, none of those students died. But it goes to show you just how real the danger of opioids in our schools is.

According to data from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, Iowa saw 479 fatal opioid overdoses in 2021, according to the Register. That number is up 12% from the previous year. Carrying naloxone in schools was made possible by the signing of Iowa House File 2573 this past June. The Register reports that the law allows Iowa schools to keep the life-saving drugs on hand and even created a fund to cover the cost.

Training for teachers in the Des Moines school district on how to use naloxone and how to recognize the signs of an opioid overdose began on September 30th. The Register reports that it is not yet known how many other Iowa school districts have done the same.

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