Rising adolescent drug overdoses force schools to keep Narcan supply on hand

The number of fentanyl-related youth overdoses has been rising for more than a decade, prompting some school districts to stock up on the opioid recovery drug Narcan. Stephen McCanless, superintendent of the Cleveland Independent School District in suburban Houston, Texas, said the shocking statistics prompted him to take these necessary precautions.

“During the first two weeks of school, we received numerous calls from paramedics, especially at the high school, which made us anxious.Especially when the reason for the calls was drug abuse…overdose. If that was the case, it would have been very unusual,” McCanless said.

McCanless said there have been 15 drug-related ED calls since school started Aug. 8, four of which required Narcan.

“We’re calling this a fentanyl crisis. Again, we’re still waiting on test results. But we don’t know if it was a reaction to the Narcan that was used. “We treat it like that,” McCanless said.

To prevent drug overdose, college students can get free naloxone and fentanyl test strips from their school

Narcan kits will be distributed at Cleveland ISD town hall meetings. (FOX News/Joy Addison)

The district is currently partnering with the Texas A&M Opioid Task Force and local hospitals to distribute Narcan to parents and students. Some parents say they are conflicted about the decision but know something has to be done.

“In my mind, I was like, ‘No, I’m scared that my kids will have an outlet, because they’re going to say, ‘I have something that can save me, and I can give it a try.’ “They’ll think it’s okay, but in their minds they’ll think, ‘These are still innocent children. We need to do something to save them.’ There has to be a way,’” said parent Onelia Santos, Cleveland ISD.

Opioid overdoses among youth rise as schools struggle to combat epidemic

Fentanyl-related overdose deaths among adolescents nearly tripled from 2019 to 2021, according to CDC data.


Adolescent overdose deaths as fentanyl rises (FOX News/Joy Addison)

According to an EdWeek Research Center survey, 40% of school and district leaders nationwide say their schools stock Narcan. Cleveland ISD has also joined this growing number.

McCanless said the district’s research also found mental health concerns associated with increased drug use. Counseling will be incorporated into the drug education curriculum.

Schools stockpile Narcan as overdose deaths soar

“It’s about continuing to engage with students, talking to them, asking them questions and following up on what is driving them to behave in this way,” McCanless said.


He said the district plans to teach students how to use Narcan and start a community policing program to get ahead of the problem. I haven’t had an ED call in the past 4 weeks.

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