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New program to fight opioid crisis in Alabama schools

A new program was introduced to bring a medicine to help save lives in Alabama high schools.

Posted: Jan 30, 2019 6:30 PM
Updated: Jan 30, 2019 9:29 PM

An opioid-reversing drug will soon be available to Alabama schools.

The state just announced the drug, Naloxone, which reverses an overdose, will be made available in all public high schools that want to participate. Staffers would be trained to administer the drug through an auto-injector.

State Superintendent Eric Mackley believes this program has the potential to save the lives of students.

“Our primary responsibilities are to keep our students safe and ensure they receive the best possible education to prepare them for life after high school. This important development speaks to that first responsibility of student safety,” Mackey said. “Of course, the hope is that none of our students will be in a situation where they need an injection to prevent them from a possibly fatal opioid overdose. However, we know that the opioid crisis is nothing unique to Alabama. This is an issue of national concern. It is fortunate that Alabama has taken such a lead in keeping our students safe.”

The program also has support of the attorney general.

Attorney General Steve Marshall told WAAY 31 he was hesitant at first because he feared it would encourage teens to use drugs. The battle is a personal one for him after his wife's suicide while battling addiction. After a conversation with a doctor, Marshall changed his mind.

"I was talking to one of the doctors about that, and he looked at me and said, 'Well, I can't help them if they're dead,'" Marshall said. "That really was an eye-opener for me to say that I can't help someone if they made the decision to overdose and die."

David Leonard is a minister who works with teens. He says he knows the effects of opioid abuse on young adults.

"Sometimes a well meaning young person can inadvertently get involved with a crowd, and find themselves in an uncompromising position," Leonard said. "We need to educate our students, our parents, our teachers about the challenges of our young people."

Leonard, along with parents WAAY 31 spoke to, agreed school staff should be equipped for the worst-case scenario.

"If the child is definitely having a drug overdose, they're going to be in a bad way anyway, so Narcan won't make it any worse," a parent, Catherine O'kain, said. "I think it can only be beneficial. I don't see any negatives to it."

WAAY 31 reached out to school districts across North Alabama. Some expressed an interest in being a part of the program.

Huntsville City Schools said it's looking at the next steps in bringing the program here.

According to Keith Ward with the district, "Huntsville City Schools will be developing procedures and training for our health services staff in the near future. Staff training is required before a school system may qualify to receive medication."

Madison County said it's interested as well, but it will take time to set up protocol with the school board.

Limestone County Schools, Morgan County Schools and Decatur City Schools still have no opinion at this time and are looking into the program before making a decision.

The program is available to all public high schools in the state, but it is not mandatory.

"I think it's a very proactive step to try and be able to save lives," Marshall said.

The funding for the drug is secured through the Alabama Department of Public Health, so there is no cost for Alabama schools.

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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12969243
Mobile9836206
Montgomery6609148
Madison531433
Tuscaloosa419073
Unassigned356061
Baldwin350224
Shelby326035
Marshall313035
Lee266045
Morgan236918
Etowah210431
DeKalb179813
Calhoun176113
Elmore171538
Walker152064
Houston138612
Russell13582
St. Clair132817
Dallas131823
Limestone131813
Franklin127020
Cullman122012
Colbert117113
Lauderdale115717
Autauga108621
Escambia107516
Talladega100913
Jackson9684
Tallapoosa85479
Chambers84038
Dale82723
Blount7884
Chilton7886
Butler75836
Coffee7566
Covington73420
Pike7037
Clarke6629
Barbour5735
Lowndes57124
Marion57024
Marengo55315
Hale47326
Bullock46311
Winston45011
Perry4404
Bibb4265
Wilcox42610
Monroe4194
Randolph39610
Pickens3929
Conecuh38810
Washington38612
Sumter36018
Lawrence3481
Macon33414
Crenshaw3143
Choctaw28112
Cherokee2707
Henry2593
Geneva2570
Clay2525
Greene25011
Lamar2202
Fayette2045
Cleburne1261
Coosa1012
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 120585

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby22916301
Davidson20383213
Rutherford646354
Hamilton606253
Knox451338
Williamson347825
Sumner340473
Unassigned312810
Out of TN286014
Wilson226223
Bradley190312
Montgomery190213
Sevier18507
Putnam174018
Trousdale15826
Robertson153519
Hamblen138314
Blount127711
Maury12257
Washington12252
Tipton11959
Madison106417
Sullivan96214
Bedford91811
Hardeman89817
Macon85813
Lake7820
Loudon7253
Bledsoe6951
Gibson6935
Fayette6868
Dickson6792
Anderson6766
Dyer6287
Cheatham5787
Henderson5632
Jefferson5593
Lawrence5506
Obion5464
McMinn53120
Rhea5282
Coffee5223
Carter5126
Warren5074
Lauderdale4898
Greene4678
Haywood4636
Hardin4628
Roane4612
Cocke4572
Hawkins4517
Cumberland4506
Smith4454
Weakley4214
Monroe4189
Giles37813
McNairy3715
DeKalb3492
Franklin3254
Carroll2963
Marshall2903
White2815
Lincoln2801
Henry2760
Claiborne2660
Crockett2664
Johnson2650
Hickman2590
Campbell2471
Wayne2252
Marion2224
Chester2172
Polk2043
Decatur1983
Grainger1960
Overton1801
Unicoi1610
Union1540
Benton1481
Cannon1430
Jackson1241
Humphreys1203
Morgan1181
Scott1180
Grundy1132
Sequatchie1050
Meigs1040
Fentress920
Perry790
Hancock782
Clay750
Stewart740
Lewis731
Moore610
Houston570
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