Lawmakers Hope to Reduce Drug Abuse, OD Deaths in Schools

New Jersey schools would be required to expand drug-abuse education starting in seventh grade, screen students for potential misuse beginning in ninth grade, and stock opioid antidotes in all high schools based on legislative proposals now under consideration, one of which could soon be signed into law.

State lawmakers unanimously passed a measure in mid-June that requires all school districts to develop a policy for overdose-reversal agents like Narcan, a brand name for naloxone, a substance that has been used more than 43,000 times in New Jersey since 2014. High schools would need to stock the antidote and train the nurse or another official to administer it to anyone in need during school hours or at school events.

“The harsh reality is that opioids are killing thousands of people in this country, many of them young people,” said Assemblyman Vincent Mazzeo (D-Atlantic), a lead sponsor of the bill, which is now before Gov. Phil Murphy; his office declined to comment on pending legislation. “Narcan has been proven to save lives. Having it readily available in schools can help ensure that our schools are ready to respond in every emergency situation,” Mazzeo added.

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