UA bringing overdose prevention training and Narcan to Tuscaloosa residence halls
The University of Alabama is working to bring a life-saving drug and training on how to use it into residence halls on its Tuscaloosa campus. Naloxone is also known by its brand name Narcan. The nasal spray is used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. The medication was approved for over-the-counter use by the Federal Drug Administration back in March.
The student organization End Overdose at The University of Alabama will hold open sessions on overdose prevention and Narcan training in residence halls across campus around once a month. The first session is scheduled for October 11th at 7 p.m. in John H. England Jr. Hall. The training is open to all UA students and faculty. Organizers say the session will last no longer than 30 minutes.
Hayden Rutter is the founder and president of the End Overdose chapter at UA. He said the organization was started on campus last fall after he volunteered for the End Overdose main office in Pasadena, California, during the summer of 2022.
“I believe this organization is needed to educate students on overdose and how overdose deaths can be prevented,” he explained. “Drug overdose is currently the number one cause of death for adult Americans, which is why I feel education on the crisis is so critical.”
Rutter said since the creation of the Tuscaloosa branch, more than 3,000 students have been trained on how to recognize and respond to opioid overdose.
During the October 11th training session, Rutter said Project FREEDOM, a state-focused project working to reduce opioid overdose deaths in Alabama, will be present. That’s along with officers from The University of Alabama Police Department.
“We’ll be conducting our standard overdose prevention and response training with UAPD and Project FREEDOM. Students will have the opportunity to ask UAPD questions about the laws surrounding overdose like the Good Samaritan Law, as well as campus policies regarding medical intervention,” he explained. “Project FREEDOM will also be distributing the Naloxone post training.”
The Good Samaritan Law in Alabama addresses situations where acting in good faith could help to save someone in an overdose situation.
Rutter said it’s important to have accessibility and knowledge of harm reduction.
“Overdose is the number one cause of death for adults under 45,” he said. “40% of overdose deaths [are] preventable if those [who] were with the victim knew how and when to intervene, as well as if they were equipped with Naloxone to help bridge the gap between when the overdose starts and when the first responders were able to get to the scene.”
Alabama has one of the highest opioid dispensing rate in the country. That’s according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released back in 2020. The findings also show that Tuscaloosa County has one of the higher dispensing rates in the state. The CDC reports 1,029 people died in Alabama during 2020 due to drug overdoses. That number jumped to 1,408 in 2021.
The sessions come as legislation was passed by UA’s Student Government Association in partnership with End Overdose at The University of Alabama to encourage student organizations to sign up for the training and boost student engagement on emergency care.