Los Angeles school district to distribute overdose-reversal drug to all K-12 schools after student’s death, officials say


Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District will soon be stocked with doses of naloxone, a drug used to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid overdoses, Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho announced Thursday.

The district’s announcement comes after Los Angeles police reported multiple overdoses among local high school students, including one who died and another who was hospitalized after being found on the high school’s campus last week, police said in a statement.

Carvalho told a news conference that recent drug incidents in the district have had a “significant impact,” which he attributed to “an unacceptable level of availability of narcotics and opioids in our community.”

“We have an urgent crisis on our hands,” the supervisor said in a separate statement. “Research shows that the availability of naloxone along with overdose education is effective in reducing overdoses and deaths, and will save lives. We will do everything in our power to prevent another student in our community from becoming a victim of the growing opioid epidemic.”

Naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, is a fast-acting drug that can reverse the effects of opioids like fentanyl and heroin and help restore a person’s normal breathing, according to the CDC. Naloxone usually works to reverse an overdose within 30 to 90 minutes, according to the National Institutes of Health, so immediate medical attention should be sought.

Naloxone can be administered as an injection or nasal spray and is not harmful if given to someone who is not suffering from an opioid overdose, the CDC says.

The district currently has enough doses to supply its schools, a process that will take place over the next two weeks, the statement said. As more doses are received, they will be distributed to other campuses, the district announced.

The district police will also carry the doses of the treatment, Carvalho said.

In an effort to prevent overdoses before they happen, Carvalho said the district’s initiative also includes parent awareness and education programs.

District staff such as nurses, wellness center providers and trained volunteers are already trained or will be trained to administer the treatment, and the district will work to develop training and education for the school community, he said.

Teen drug overdose deaths have increased dramatically in recent years, with a study published this year in the journal JAMA showing that teen overdoses doubled from 2010 to 2021. .

With drug use among teenagers at an all-time low, the rise in overdose deaths is likely not the result of more teens using drugs, but rather the drugs themselves are becoming more dangerous, one of the study’s authors said.

“This is not coming from teenagers using drugs. It’s actually making drug use more dangerous,” said study author Joseph Friedman, a researcher studying medicine and medical informatics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Overdose deaths are also a much broader and growing problem in the US. The CDC estimates that fatal overdoses in 2021 increased by 15% from 2020. From 2019 to 2021, the increase was 30%.