Every school and school district should have a plan in place to deal with opioid emergencies. Other issues may have overshadowed the opioid crisis in America in recent months, but that doesn’t mean that it’s gone away. Sadly, schools need to be prepared for opioid-related emergencies related to both staff and students. It begins with a review of policies and practices to combat drug abuse in youth.


When anyone on the campus brings opioid medication to school, it creates the potential for problems. Some individuals may have properly prescribed medicines that they’re using correctly. However, others will be using prescriptions that aren’t theirs. Some people on campus may even be selling opioids, which means increased potential for other kinds of crime.  Having eyes and ears open to inform administration if a child is seen taking a pill on campus.  The only time they should be taking a pill is in the nurse’s office under supervision of a trained adult.


Schools need to form planning teams. Opioids are out there, and they’re more likely than not to show up on a given campus. The team should include school employees, parents, and even students. It’s also essential to ensure that someone with a medical background and experience dealing with overdoses is on the team. 


The second step is to understand the problem. Is there already an issue on campus, or is it still at the threat stage? Some schools survey their students once or twice a year. By asking questions about drug use, they hope to understand what percentage of the campus is using. This helps them to determine what level of response might be needed. For example, if there’s heavy opioid use, it’s good to have plenty of naloxone available to treat overdoses.


Finally, figure out what the school’s goals are and what steps can be taken to reach them. Goals will vary with the situation. An early-stage goal is to prevent the use and particularly overdoses on campus. If there’s an overdose, a good goal is to respond in time. The next step would be to help the person involved find a recovery program that might work for them. Offering a pathway out of addiction is the most important thing a school can do for an addict.