Fifty micrograms may not seem like all that much, but a dose of Fentanyl that size can be lethal.
Opioid overdose deaths and opioid emergencies are on the rise in San Luis Obispo county and nationwide, according to Health Educator Prevention Specialist Kirsten Vinther. Now, Cal Poly Health and Wellbeing is offering free overdose prevention kits to students that include Narcan, an emergency drug used to treat opioid overdoses.
The overdose prevention kit includes two doses of Narcan nasal spray, a disposable CPR face shield, fentanyl resistant gloves and available resources for the safe use of Narcan.
The main distribution program for Narcan takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. in front of PULSE, which is located in the lower level of the Health Center. Students can also get a free kit at request from the Health Center pharmacy.
In both situations, students will be given a brief 5-10 minute training on how to spot the signs of an overdose and how to safely use their kit.
The only information the program collects is the name and year of the individual picking up the kit, which is sent to their grant agency. This information is not used to keep track of who has an overdose prevention kit.
“Getting Narcan does not mark you as somebody who uses at all,” Vinther said. “It marks you as somebody who wants it. Most of the people who I’m distributing it to are telling me that [they] have a leadership position on campus or [they] have a really strong first aid kit and [they] want to make sure they have this just in case.”
One of those people is mechanical engineering junior Marissa Gonnering who attended one of the drop-in distribution hours at PULSE.
“I am a Resident Advisor at Cal Poly… they mentioned it during training this year and, as soon as I heard it during training, I knew that it was something I wanted to be able to have,” Gonnering said.
Vinther stressed that after Narcan is administered, the person receiving that dose must receive medical attention immediately.
“Narcan only lasts about 30-60 minutes,” Vinther said. “Most opioids – their half-life is much longer than that. So it’s really critical that students be aware that this is not a catch-all, this is not a save-all.”
The program has distributed 85 kits as of Oct. 7 and has been approved to receive an additional 192 units. Campus Health and Wellbeing plans to continue supporting the program.
“As long as there is a need and we have the inventory and research supporting its efficacy and safety, knowing what we currently know, I would love to have Narcan in the hands of as many people as possible,” Vinther said.
Mustangs for Recovery is an on-campus resource for students that offers support for students that are experiencing substance abuse and misuse. The program offers meetings based on both abstinence-only and harm-reduction models of recovery and is a space where students can interact with other students and allies in the recovery community.