Students for Opioid Solutions, a grassroots movement created to prevent opioid-related deaths on college campuses, has announced its arrival at ASU.
According to its website, the group aims to reduce the number of opioid deaths to zero as “no one should die from a preventable death.”
Brigette Maggio, a business law and political science junior, is the Students for Opioid Solutions campus leader at ASU.
The organization has chapters at 34 universities in 27 states, with ASU’s chapter being the first in Arizona, Maggio said.
According to the group's mission statement, Students for Opioid Solutions aims to reduce opioid deaths by encouraging university student governments to pass legislation that requires campus police and residential hall staff to receive proper opioid overdose training.
Currently, there are no guidelines or training of what to do in the event of an opioid overdose in the dorms, Maggio said.
Another initiative that Students for Opioid Solutions plans to take includes requiring schools to report the number of opioid deaths or overdoses in an annual report — something most schools do not do, according to the group's mission statement.
The group is also advocating to enforce campus police and residential hall staff to carry Narcan, a treatment for opioid overdoses, in the event of an emergency situation.
Maggio said her role as a residential engagement leader on campus plays a large part in her involvement to increase opioid awareness and search for solutions.
“I’m passionate about this because it (involves) my residents, my kids,” she said. “I just want to make sure they’re going to be OK.”
Between June and October 2017, there have been more than 400 opioid deaths in Arizona, according to a report from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The bulk of overdoses occur in males 25-29, according to the report.
“The state has recognized it," Maggio said. "Doug Ducey, the governor has recognized it. It’s obviously a growing, pressing issue we should be focusing on today.”
The University prohibits the use, possession and distribution of all alcohol and drug substances, according to a statement from an ASU Police Department spokesperson.
“ASU strives to create a healthy environment in which the illegal or improper use of alcohol and other drugs and controlled substances does not interfere with learning, performance, employment, residential living, or development,” the statement read.
In addition, the University offers resources for students to learn more about substance abuse and how to prevent it and works with ASU PD to combat the issue.
"Education is the primary focus of the university, and substance abuse prevention is a goal of this policy," the statement read. "Information and assistance are provided by student peer advisors in residence halls at the Tempe campus."
Gerald Fraas, the president of Students for Opioid Solutions, said the rising issue of the opioid addiction crisis was something that had been on his mind long before he founded the organization.
For Fraas, the opioid crisis hits close to home.
He had a good friend pass away from an opioid related death in his dorm room this past March, he said.
“I got a text message saying ‘hey he’s dead, took too many pills," Fraas said. "They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t call the ambulance fast enough. There were solutions out there that could have proactively dealt with this.”
Fraas said action is needed now more than ever.
“This stuff is just everywhere. It is a national epidemic,” Fraas said.
According to a report from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 52,404 lethal overdoses in 2015. Of these deaths, 20,101 are opioid related.
It's important students get involved in ending the opioid crisis, Fraas said.
“Just reach out,” he said. “The biggest thing with any organization is if you just reach out to one person and say, 'how can I help' there’s probably something. No one is going to turn down a set of hands willing to work with a project."
Miranda Magallanez, a sophomore studying kinesiology, said she was uneducated about the opioid crisis until she learned about addiction in her psychology class last year.
“Not a lot of people know about it, and I think that's a big problem,” she said.
Although she isn’t involved in the organization, Magallanez said Students for Opioid Solutions is a great idea.
“You’d be educating people like me because I didn’t know anything about opioids until recently,” she said. “It’s important people know about it, especially college kids. Now is the time addictions are formed.”
Information regarding the first meeting for Students for Opioid Solutions has yet to be released. Those looking to get involved can contact ASU campus leader, Brigette Maggio.
Reach the reporter at Kimberly.Rapanut@asu or follow @kimrapanut on Twitter.
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