Cal Lutheran must increase Naloxone awareness and accessibility

Sara Topliff, Reporter

Naloxone, or Narcan, is a safe and legal solution to reverse an opioid overdose. I believe that California Lutheran University must bring awareness to Naloxone and make it accessible here.

According to Ventura County Responds, “In Ventura County, more than 200 people die each year from opioid overdoses. Prescription painkiller abuse, fentanyl and fake pills, and rising opioid overdoses are part of a nationwide crisis.”

If you think someone is overdosing, you should call 911 immediately. According to the CDC, signs of an overdose include small pupils, also called “pinpoint pupils,” loss of consciousness, shallow breathing or no breathing at all, cold/clammy skin, a choking or gurgling sound or discolored skin commonly in the lips and nails.

This is where having Narcan or access to Narcan comes in handy. If someone is showing signs of an overdose, Narcan can be administered to them while you are waiting for professional medical assistance.

According to Ventura County Responds, “Given the success of bystander naloxone programs, the CDC and the World Health Organization have recommended expanding the availability of naloxone to lay people.”

Since this epidemic is affecting people right here in Ventura County, Cal Lutheran should be prepared with Narcan on campus as a harm reduction protocol in case a situation were to occur. Harm reduction is a term used for public health policies that are put in place to reduce the negative consequences associated with both legal and illegal drugs.

“The university is currently in the process of working with Ventura County to train various staff throughout Cal Lutheran on how to use Narcan as well as have it available on campus in case of potential overdoses. Director of Campus Safety, David Hilke, is overseeing this process,” Director of Health Services Saul Miller said in an email interview.

With the opioid crisis being such a prominent issue, I think Cal Lutheran should take necessary safety precautions. This epidemic is a major issue and I think it should be talked about more in order to educate people and bring awareness to the signs and dangers of overdosing.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. It is a major contributor to fatal and nonfatal overdoses in the U.S.”

By having access to Narcan and keeping it in close proximity, we can practice harm reduction, which is a simple way to save someone’s life.  

“The substantial increase in fentanyl overdoses we are seeing across the country is definitely something that should be taken seriously,” Miller said.

According to the CDC, some people may not even be aware they are taking fentanyl if their drugs are laced. For instance, illicitly manufactured fentanyl can be made to appear as other drugs in a powder or liquid form.

“It’s becoming to the point where it’s out of control…it’s affecting a lot of the juveniles,” adjunct Criminology and Criminal Justice professor Michael Webb said in a phone interview.

Webb teaches a very important class at Cal Lutheran known as CRIM-410 Substance Abuse. This course gives an overview of drug use in a historical and social context and also covers alcohol, a substance fentanyl is often found in and brings attention to current drug use practices.

It is crucial to be educated on subjects like this for harm reduction, even if it’s not the most exciting thing to talk about.

“I think it’s important for everyone to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with a fentanyl overdose. Indeed, knowing these signs and symptoms and knowing what to do when someone exhibits these warning signs can mean the difference between life and death,” Miller said.

The opioid epidemic is a serious issue that we should all be aware of. Because of the life-threatening consequences opioid overdoses may cause, it is important to have Narcan on campus at Cal Lutheran and educate people on the subject of overdose signs and harm reduction.