New York Colleges Receive Naloxone to Fight Heroin Overdoses

Twelve New York State colleges are due to receive naloxone kits, the potent antidote that can reduce heroin overdose fatalities, reports Denise Nickerson of WRGZ.

The Community Overdose Prevention (COP) Program will provide state universities of New York (SUNY) members with approximately $27,000 to purchase 258 kits, each of which will contain two pre-filled syringes of naloxone, two atomizers, sterile gloves, and an explanatory pamphlet.  The kits will be distributed to campus police.

“We know it works. We know it works everywhere,” Schneiderman said. “And now we’re putting this life-saving drug in the hands of campus police all across the state of New York to help stop this plague that is claiming far too many young people’s lives.”

• Westchester was one of the top 10 counties for opioid-related hospitalizations.

• An Oswego student died on campus from a heroin overdose in May.

• At Oswego, two students suffered near-fatal overdoses off campus.

• A Binghamton graduate student was found dead on campus from a heroin overdose.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature passed, in June, tougher anti-heroin laws and ways to improve treatment programs.

Even though heroin use on campuses nationwide is not as widespread as the use of other drugs and alcohol, a growing number of heroin overdoses has become an alarming development for campus health officials, according to J. Baulkman of the University Herald.

“The COP Program is an essential part of our effort to combat the epidemic of heroin overdoses plaguing communities here in New York State and across the country,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “In just the past year, we’ve seen multiple students overdose on SUNY campuses – a tragic reminder that the crisis we’ve seen in the news is not so far from our students’ dorm rooms. By providing SUNY campus officers with naloxone, we are making this stunningly effective overdose antidote available to institutions that educate and care for our students.”

Naloxone is not dangerous, even if misapplied; it has a shelf life of about two years; a kit costs about $60; and officers will be trained in administering the antidote.  The University of Rochester Medical Center’s Strong Recovery holds a monthly Opioid Overdose Prevention Program, which is free and open to the public.

Cuomo has also added 100 investigators to the state police narcotics unit to combat the rising use of heroin, according to a report from CBS New York. He is also beginning an effort to train and supply first responders the naloxone antidote.

“Heroin is not a problem that law enforcement alone can solve — the troopers and the sheriffs and the DAs can’t solve it, the teachers in the education system can’t solve it,” Cuomo said. “It’s going to take all of us.”

Some experts say that the uptake in heroin usage may be due to the crackdown on prescription drugs, which probably has pushed addicts to the opioid, which is cheaper and easier to get.

In Syracuse, police busted a heroin trafficking ring which was moving large amounts of drugs from Newark, New Jersey to the area. The Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick called it “a significant blow to the heroin trade in Central New York”.  Jacob Pucci, reporting for Syracuse Media Group, says that 10,000 packets of heroin, totaling 13 oz. were confiscated.

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