Opioid overdose medication offered to students
A new tool in the fight against opioid addiction and abuse is now available to UW-Madison students.
Thanks to a joint agreement between University Health Services and Walgreens, naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of a drug overdose on the body, can now be purchased at Walgreens.
The drug can be sprayed as a nasal mist or injected into a vein, muscle, or just under the skin. The medication works by blocking opioid receptor sites. Students should contact their insurance provider for more information on coverage.
Upon purchase, students will be trained by pharmacy staff on the proper use of naloxone. Because students will likely be unable to treat themselves if they experience an overdose, they should make sure that friends and family members can spot signs of an overdose and administer the medication. UHS plans to send staff psychologists into the community to train student organizations on the proper use of naloxone.
“We are excited to offer this tool to students who may be concerned about the opioid use habits of themselves or a friend,” said Angela Janis, MD, UHS Counseling and Consultation Services Interim Co-Director.
A wave of opioid addiction and abuse has swept the state in recent years. Wisconsin State Crime Lab cases involving heroin increased by 419 percent between 2008 and 2014.
The state is starting to acknowledge the challenges of the opioid abuse epidemic. In March, Gov. Scott Walker signed into a law a suite of bills known as the Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) bills that provide law enforcement officials with the tools necessary to prevent and treat opioid addiction and overdose. Included in the HOPE bills is protection from criminal prosecution for drug possession if someone brings a fellow drug user to an emergency room or calls 911 because they believe a peer is suffering from an overdose.
UHS wants to help those who struggle with opioid abuse. Students who are concerned about their own drug use or who are worried that a friend or student is abusing opioids can come to UHS Counseling and Consultation Services anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
For more information on symptoms of opioid abuse and the services UHS offers, click here.
Opioid Overdose Prevention in Wisconsin, Wisconsin Department of Health Services
Naloxone, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Walker signs bills aimed at fighting rising heroin problem, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Written by Ben Vincent, UHS Web and Publications Editor