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ABQ public high schools to carry anti-overdose drug naloxone

Albuquerque’s public high schools will carry the anti-overdose drug naloxone under a plan approved this week.

The proposal passed unanimously with little discussion during an Albuquerque Public Schools board committee meeting Wednesday night.

APS Government Affairs and Policy Director Carrie Robin Brunder told board members that the district was motivated by recent legislation that expands access to the overdose treatment.

Under the plan, high school nurses will receive training on proper use of naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan. The drug is administered through a nasal spray or injection to counteract overdoses of heroin and other opioids.

Vicki Price, APS director of counseling, told the Journal that the district has not seen any opioid overdoses at schools, but it’s sensible to stock naloxone as a precaution.

She cited the state’s growing opioid problem: In 2014, a record 536 New Mexican died of drug overdoses – the second-highest per-capita rate in the nation. Only West Virginia fared worse.

“Unlike alcohol or other drugs, you have a short window to respond to an opioid overdose,” Price said. “This is just a precaution that could save a life.”

The cost for the naloxone kits should be relatively low, Price said, though she did not know the exact amount.

In December 2016, the Albuquerque City Council voted to budget at least $7,500 to carry naloxone in publicly accessible city buildings.

Rio Rancho Public Schools also started storing the drug this year at middle schools and high schools.