Opioids include prescription medications such as codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and illegal drugs including heroin to treat pain. (Signal photo/ Aliyah Stoeckl)

Addiction to prescription drugs on college campuses has increased.

The antidote for this prescription drug crisis will now be in the hands of the University Police Department (UPD) along with additional innovative solutions to saving lives.

Opioids include prescription medications such as codeine, morphine, oxycodone, and illegal drugs including heroin to treat pain. 

An overdose can commonly occur when misusing the prescription or using an illicit opioid. 

To address what can result in fatal death, a simple nasal spray called Naloxone (NARCAN). 

It is used to reverse the life threatening effects of opioid medicines.

Clint Strode, Chief of the University Police Department stated officers began carrying Naloxone Spring of 2019. 

“Each officer is issued two doses, and has received training in identifying an opioid overdose and how to administer the drug” Strode said.

Addiction to opioids can happen to anyone. Overdoses can be intentional and unintentional which can lead to tragic consequences and death.

Dr. Suzanne Whitehead, Program coordinator and Counselor Educator stated, “Opioid addiction is an equal opportunity disease. Tragically, it happens all too often to persons due to being prescribed extremely potent opioid medications, such as Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, or Vicodin for pain relief.”

The use of opioids on college campuses can be prevented with the education and training on Naloxone. 

To address this major public health problem the expansion of Naloxone can be used by medical responders, health care providers,  and community members.

“Being a Counselor Educator, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and a Licensed Addiction Counselor, I carry it!  Anyone can obtain the medication from all CVS Pharmacies in California,” Whitehead added. 

“Seconds matter, and each life saved means another chance at recovery for that person, and all their loved ones.  Each life touches each others in inexplicable, extraordinary ways; we must do all we can to save our precious family members, loved ones, and friends.” Whitehead expressed.

In efforts to finding life saving solutions, UPD also adopted nonlethal launchers in hopes of a new effective alternative during altercations. 

According to UPD’s Lieutenant, Matthew Dillon, the primary goal of the 40mm launcher is to stop aggression from a distance and allow officers more distance and time in critical incidents.   

“The 40mm launchers uses a ‘sponge’ round and can be used from a minimum distance of five feet and a maximum range of approximately 36 meters. The impact of the sponge round is similar to being hit with a 90 mph fastball,” Lieutenant Dillon said. 

UPD will continue to find different resolutions to life saving decisions. 

As the dilemma for opioid overdose rises, it’s crucial to create awareness and training on drug prevention to medical officials and bystanders.

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