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Fentanyl Death of Seventh Grader Leads to Calls for Change

In early January 2022, a 13-year-old seventh-grader in Hartford, Connecticut, died from a fentanyl overdose. Some 40 bags of fentanyl were later found at the school.

His death is being blamed in part on the fact that school officials in Hartford are poorly trained to identify the signs of an overdose or treat students experiencing one.

Addiction specialists suggest the problem is not unique to Hartford. Many are again calling for schools across the country to properly train students and staff to quickly identify the symptoms of an overdose and train staff to administer the opioid overdose antidote naloxone.

These steps are urgently needed, given the rise in fentanyl-laced drugs – including marijuana. According to the CDC, "fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine." It's also a potent killer.

One of the first appeals to train school personnel for these emergencies came in 2015 from the National Association of School Nurses.

The Association offers an online resource, the Naloxone in Schools Toolkit, with information on administering naloxone and training staff. According to their website, "the toolkit includes training presentations and resources to help school nurses, leaders, and community members take the appropriate steps to identify and react to a possible opioid overdose in a school setting."

Sadly, many, if not most, school districts in the U.S. offer little such training. There is hope that state of affairs will soon change.

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