SRU providing Narcan kits on campus to reduce harm from potential drug overdoses
From left, Slippery Rock University student Kaylee Stillwagoner, SRU’s Health Promotion Coordinator Lizzy Kline and SRU student Alyssa Snyder unpack the Narcan kits that will be distributed around campus to reduce harms from opioid overdoses. Stillwagoner and Snyder are HOPE Peer Educators, a campus group that is helping lead the initiative.
Oct. 24, 2023
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Narcan kits will soon join emergency defibrillators among the life-saving devices in buildings at Slippery Rock University. Narcan is the brand name for the drug naloxone, which is used to help prevent fatal opioid overdoses. Thanks to a donation from the Pennsylvania Overdose Prevention Program, more than 300 Narcan kits will be available at 24 high-traffic locations at SRU, including places frequently visited by the public and every residence hall.
The POPP is a joint initiative between the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. The addition of Narcan kits at SRU is also part of a larger collaboration among schools in Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education who have committed to the effort to reduce harms of drug overdoses.
"This is all about harm reduction," said Lizzy Kline, SRU health promotion coordinator. "If people are suspected of an opioid overdose, Narcan is the most effective way to revive them. If you are afflicted by drug addiction or if you unknowingly take a drug that's laced with Fentanyl, the punishment should not be death. That's why it is so important to have these kits readily available in case of an emergency."
The safety measure is in response to public need, especially after there was a record number of opioid-related overdose deaths in the U.S. last year, nearly 83,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC also reported that unintentional poisoning deaths like drug overdoses, are the leading cause of injury mortality in the U.S. -- more than motor vehicle crashes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter marketing and sales of Narcan in March 2023. Narcan is dispensed through a nasal spray. Kits will be available at SRU in wall-mounted, clear bins that will also include gloves and an instruction card to use Narcan on a person suspected of an overdose.
According to Kline, the signs of an overdose unresponsiveness, verbally and physically, slowed or stopped breathing or heartbeat, and pinpoint pupils.
The steps outlined on the instruction card include tilting the person's head back and inserting the tip of the Narcan nasal spray into one nostril and pressing a plunger, turning the person on their side, and, if they continue to be unresponsive, administering a second dose after two minutes.
"You also must call 9-1-1 and make sure an emergency medical technician is on the way because the person who has overdosed needs to go to the hospital," said Kris Benkeser, SRU director of Student Health Services. "You don't just give someone Narcan and hope for the best. If you're not a trained medical professional, you should not take on the responsibility of monitoring someone as they are rebounding from an overdose. But providing Narcan could be the difference between life and death."
Narcan kits will be installed at SRU starting Nov. 2. To raise awareness for the initiative, SRU's Healthy Outreach Through Peer Education group is hosting a "Narcan Saves Lives" event, 5-7 p.m., Nov. 2, at the Smith Student Center Theater. Attendees will learn how to administer Narcan and other harm reduction tips. Refreshments will also be provided and there is no cost to attend.
Two SRU students who are HOPE peer educators have been instrumental in spreading awareness about the Narcan kits and organizing the Nov. 2 event. They include Kaylee Stillwagoner, a senior public health major from Slippery Rock, and Alyssa Snyder, a junior recreational therapy major from Leslie, West Virginia. Stillwagoner started working on the project two years ago and Snyder has a peer recovery credential that she earned from agencies in West Virginia that are addressing the opioid crisis.
The Nov. 2 event at SRU is co-sponsored by SRU's Fraternity and Sorority Life and several community partners, including Prevention Point Pittsburgh, the Butler County Drug and Alcohol Program, the Butler County Stigma Reduction Subcommittee, and Trilogy Wellness.
For more information about the Narcan initiative at SRU, contact Kline at 724.738.2251 or email@example.com.
MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | firstname.lastname@example.org