Students learn to administer naloxone to reverse drug overdoses

Weeks after Gov. Ducey's signing of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, students gathered for a naloxone training

A group of over 15 students filled an ASU classroom on Monday night to learn how to administer the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, commonly sold under the brand name Narcan. 

ASU Students for Sensible Drug Policy sponsored the event, saying it's important for more people to be trained on what to do in the case of an overdose. Nathan Leach, a representative from Sonoran Prevention Works, led the training. 

During the training, attendees were taught to administer naloxone and given two 0.4 mg/mL bottles of the overdose-reversing drug, along with a syringe.

The event was hosted just weeks after Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, which allows law enforcement and civilians alike to possess and administer naloxone. 

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 9 in 10 individuals with substance problems start at 18 years old. Leach said many first-time users are uneducated about drug practices and that naloxone training can prevent overdoses.

“For college-aged kids, drug use is something to be likely experimented with,” Leach said. “Being able to be knowledgeable on some responses that are evidence-based can hopefully mitigate harmful effects that they may experience early on in their drug use.”

The members of SSDP each have their own reason for joining the club and pushing for sensible drug policy. The vice president of SSDP and junior majoring in justice studies and African and African American studies, Maya Tatum, said her mother struggled with drug addiction. SSDP president and global studies senior, Cody Holt, said someone in his family has been arrested on drug-related offenses. Leach, the trainer, is a former heroin addict himself.

Holt believes there isn't enough education on drug overdose prevention, which can be critical on college campuses.

“College students are really affected by it because you have students that are interested in potentially experimenting with drugs,” Holt said. “If they don’t know how much to take, or if they get something they don’t have the capacity to test, we find it important to at least offer resources in terms of education.” 

Tatum said the ASU SSDP chapter was pushing for naloxone training prior to Ducey's signing of the Opioid Epidemic Act.

“His decision aided in this, but I know that our chapter has been trying to do an overdose prevention training for some time now," Tatum said. "It just happened to be that Doug Ducey did what he did."

Tatum called the training "near and dear" to her heart and hopes more people help each other in the event of an overdose.

Correction: An earlier version of the subhead incorrectly stated that the naloxone training took place a week after Gov. Doug Ducey signed the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.

Reach the reporter at or follow @tinamaria_4 on Twitter.

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