State schools stock Narcan, will La Verne follow suit?

Thatiana Gibbs
Staff Writer

The California Campus Opioid Safety Act, Senate Bill 367, took effect last year. The law requires public colleges and universities in the state to offer educational and preventative information about opioid overdoses to students during orientation. And it requires campus health centers to distribute free dosages of the federally approved opioid overdose reversal medication Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan. 

The law is designed to mitigate the risk of death caused by opioid overdose in institutions. 

“I think it is a good initiative,” Associated Students of University of La Verne President Isela Chavez said. “It is a good thing to have as it allows students to be safe and stay protected. Having resources on campus to help students with substance abuse is important.” 

The number of Americans that overdose as a result of opioid addiction is growing. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that drug-related deaths surpassed 100,000 from April 2020 to April 2021.

According to the National Library of Medicine, that number is increasingly made up of young people. 

The pandemic made worse many mental health issues among young adults, including social isolation, financial stress, and substance abuse. 

With a shortage of substance abuse treatment options in California and across the nation, only 6% of people with substance abuse problems receive treatment, according to a recent survey by the Substance and Mental Health Survey Administration.

While public universities must comply with the new law, as a private institution, the University of La Verne is under no legal obligation to offer opioid education or overdose reversal medication to its students.

“We’re always concerned about opioid abuse, but also any substance abuse or overdose issues,” said Eugene Shang, director of residence life and student conduct. “If you are struggling, speak to the housing staff or your resident assistant, and we will direct you to the appropriate resources.”

Proactively offering resources related to opioid overdose prevention, including Narcan, is an opportunity that may be lifesaving.

The Opioid Safety Act means that the state’s 158 public colleges and universities must stock Narcan in their health centers.   

The University of La Verne, a private institution, does not currently stock Narcan in the health center.

“I think what is unique and different about our campus is that those issues (opioid abuse) are not within the same magnitude as on other campuses,” said Juan Regalado, associate vice president for student affairs. 

Nonetheless, Regalado said the University is currently looking at the Opioid Safety Act. 

 “We are … drafting a policy for what that might look like on campus,” Regalado said. “So, looking at the act, looking at what makes sense to us given our needs, and working out a policy that makes sense.”

At the University of La Verne, one resource offered for students in regards to substance abuse prevention is the Think About It program, the online course all students must take, which provides mandated alcohol, drugs and sexual violence prevention training. Students here must complete the program their first year.

“If someone is struggling with narcotic use, we have the CARe Network and various outreaches to help them overcome that,” said Ruben Ibarra, director of University safety operations. “When it comes to overdoses, we inform our officers to notify the fire department so that they can respond. The use of Naloxone and the authorization to use it, is something that we will explore further.” 

If you or someone you know is in need of substance abuse treatment, contact Housing and Residential Life at 909-448-4052; Counseling and Psychological Services at 909-448-4105, or CAPS crisis line at 909-448-4650.

For drug or mental health emergencies, call 988.

Thatiana Gibbs can be reached at thatiana.gibbs@laverne.edu.

Thatiana Gibbs is a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism and a staff writer for the Campus Times. Her enthusiasm lies in research, writing, and effectively delivering captivating information to the public eye.

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