Narcan becomes accessible across campus. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com.
LILY O’CONNOR | STAFF REPORTER | firstname.lastname@example.org
Starting this school year, every Butler University Police Department (BUPD) car will have two units of naloxone nasal spray, more widely known by the brand name Narcan. Plenty of extras will be available at BUPD and in the automated external defibrillator (AED) cabinets in Atherton Union and the first aid kit in the Efroymson Diversity Center.
Within the next few weeks, there will be units in all AED cabinets on campus, in Health Services and in the Student Government Association (SGA) office. According to BUPD community relations officer Matthew Grimes, many BUPD officers will soon have new vests that have a pocket to carry Narcan in. These initiatives are huge steps for Butler in terms of increasing accessibility to the drug.
“We only had a few doses of those in the supervisor vehicle, and then the other cars didn’t have it,” Grimes said. “So when we would need it, we’d have to call the supervisor … So [SGA President Katie Stanley] was able to work with her friend through the Overdose Lifeline, and they gave us a huge donation.”
Naloxone is a drug that rapidly reverses opioid overdoses by attaching to opioid receptors and blocking the effects of opioid drugs. Some common opioids include heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone. Overdoses on these drugs can cause a person to stop breathing and lose consciousness, among other symptoms. Permanent brain damage or death are possibilities if treatment is delayed.
The drug that is available on campus is in nasal spray form, which makes it simple to administer. SGA President Katie Stanley, a senior psychology and religious studies double major, initiated a partnership with Overdose Lifeline. According to her, Narcan is an easy-to-use drug that everyone can own and use, even someone without medical training.
“I’ve actually seen Narcan used in real life three times,” Stanley said. “It’s an incredible thing to watch. For instance, I saw one woman that they were giving CPR to. They gave her a dose of Narcan, and she was sitting up and blinking moments later … But being able to identify those signs and symptoms of overdose is very important to me, which is kind of what made me interested in our campus and interested in the opioid epidemic.”
Overdose Lifeline is a local non-profit organization that provides free fentanyl test strips and Narcan to Indiana schools, Marion County Jail and anybody else who requests it in their online form. They also provide educational prevention programs and resources for people and families affected by opioid addiction.
Stanley hopes that sometime in the near future, SGA or the Office of Service and Community Engagement will be able to send Butler students to volunteer at Overdose Lifeline as a way to give back.
“A way to give back to them, because they are giving this to us for free, is to go and give our time,” Stanley said. “To nonprofits, time is incredibly valuable, and being able to return the favor for doing something so outstanding for us is something I feel passionate about even outside of Overdose Lifeline.”
The initiative to prevent overdoses is not new to Butler’s campus. According to junior marketing major Sophia Guyer, students, including herself, have made petitions and shown interest in having naloxone accessible on campus. Guyer also recalls that her sorority has done volunteer work at drug addiction centers and overdose centers.
“I think accessibility [of Narcan] is a great step,” Guyer said. “I honestly think [accessibility] is the toughest battle of this whole thing, really, and I think SGA has done an amazing thing.”
According to Stanley, Grimes and Guyer, prevention does not stop at accessibility. An important aspect of having Narcan accessible is education on what an overdose looks like and how to use the drug.
“If [volunteers] go around to each of the Greek Life houses, set up meetings with RAs or a representative comes in and shows people how to do it, I would say that might be needed,” Guyer said.
Guyer is grateful to SGA and Overdose Lifeline for providing this life-saving resource to Butler and spreading the word about overdose prevention and harm reduction.
“When I was in high school, I was in a situation where it was dangerous to not have [Narcan],” Guyer said. “ … I didn’t even know Narcan was an option at the time, and now that I do know what it is, I think everyone should know.”
Graphic by Isabel Villanueva. Information courtesy of narcan.com.