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Opioid Overdose Prevention in Schools

Other School & Work Issues

Opioid overdose policies in public schools.

This article explains the requirements of S.B. 629, passed by the Texas Legislature in 2023. This bill relates to school efforts to reduce overdose deaths among students.

Background

Drug overdose deaths among people 10-19 years old doubled between 2019 and 2021. Approximately 90% of these deaths involved opioids.  The most common opioid involved was fentanyl. 

Easy access to substances with fentanyl, combined with a mental health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in an increase in overdose deaths among younger populations. 

To save lives, many medical groups encourage widespread access to safe and affordable medicines like naloxone, an opioid overdose-reversal drug that is available without a prescription.

What is SB 629?

In 2023, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 629. This law requires public school districts to create policies that provide access to opioid overdose-reversal drugs on certain campuses.

Which campuses are required to have an opioid policy?

Public schools are required to have an opioid overdose-reversal policy at each campus in the district that serves students in grades six to 12.  

Campuses serving fifth grade and below, open-enrollment charter schools, and private schools are not required to have a policy under this new law, but they are encouraged to do so.

What is required in an opioid policy?

Each school district, charter school, or private school that adopts an opioid antagonist policy is required to:

  1. have opioid overdose medication at each campus, and 
  2. train school personnel and volunteers in administering the medication.

The training must include information on recognizing the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, administering an opioid overdose-reversal drug, and other necessary emergency procedures.

What else are schools doing to address overdose deaths?

School districts are updating drug awareness and prevention programs.  Schools are having discussions about the ongoing opioid crisis, fentanyl, substance use, and treating opioid overdoses with naloxone.

Social media campaigns are important for getting information to adolescents about the dangers of fentanyl. 

School personnel can encourage students who are experiencing stress or anxiety to see a doctor for help rather than turning to social media for relief from mental health symptoms.

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