Feds urge local leaders to make naloxone available in schools
BERNALILLO COUNTY, N.M. – A new study revealed 22 people between 14 and 18 years old died in the U.S. every week from drug overdoses in 2022, and Bernalillo County was named as a national hotspot.
It’s a threat that doesn’t care what kind of future it destroys.
“We’ve seen a lot more young people that are struggling with substance use. We’re seeing the ages get younger, we’re seeing a lot of 14 and 15 year olds,” said Jennifer Burke, executive director of Serenity Mesa.
Burke opened Serenity Mesa in 2015 after her son Cameron died of a heroin overdose.
“I literally had to wait until he was 18 before I could send him to some addiction treatment centers here in New Mexico, and he was 16 when he started using, so it was really frustrating,” said Burke.
The treatment center provides in-patient services for youth addicted to drugs and alcohol.
She says their referrals have only gone up, especially since COVID-19.
“It’s heartbreaking because I see these kids every day, and they’re just kids, and they’ve experienced a lot more in their short lives than most of us can imagine,” said Burke.
A report released this week from UCLA names Bernalillo County as a national hotspot for fentanyl overdoses.
23 deaths from 2020 to 2022 involving 14 to 18 year olds.
“We know that the drug supply today has become much more lethal and dangerous, especially when it comes to drugs like fentanyl,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of Drug Control Policy at the White House.
Gupta is pushing for schools to carry naloxone – a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose.
Gupta and the secretary of education sent out a letter, encouraging administrators to develop or revise emergency plans in case of an overdose.
“Our estimates show that if we have an extra 6.5 million doses of naloxone out there in the country that we have today, we would save over 26,000 lives. Those are huge numbers when you talk about lives,” said Gupta.
Burke agrees, she says the more access to naloxone the better.
“The numbers speak for themselves, kids are dying, and we can’t ignore that fact anymore,” said Burke.
Officials with both Albuquerque Public Schools and Rio Rancho Public Schools told KOB 4 they have naloxone in every one of its schools – middle and elementary included.
The White House letter sent to school administrators also included several resources on how to fight fentanyl use among youth.