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Maine high schools will soon have to offer students training in administering naloxone

FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 file photo, a fire medic holds a box containing naloxone hydrochloride which is carried in all their department's emergency response vehicles, in Akron, Ohio. Doctors who prescribe opioid painkillers should tell their patients about a potentially life-saving medication that can reverse drug overdoses, according to new federal guidelines issued Thursday, July 23, 2020.
Keith Srakocic
/
AP
FILE - In this Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019 file photo, a fire medic holds a box containing naloxone hydrochloride which is carried in all their department's emergency response vehicles, in Akron, Ohio. Doctors who prescribe opioid painkillers should tell their patients about a potentially life-saving medication that can reverse drug overdoses, according to new federal guidelines issued Thursday, July 23, 2020.

Maine high schools will soon be required to offer training to students in the administration of the nasal spray version of the opioid reversal drug naloxone.

Under a state law passed earlier this year, the training would need to be based on standards from nationally recognized programs or agencies, and would be an "extracurricular instruction." It would also need to be taught by a qualified instructor.

Some school groups expressed initial concerns about the requirements to legislators. But Jaelynn Williams, a 10th-grader at Hebron Academy, said that she lost a close family friend to an overdose, and many kids hide their drug use from parents and other adults.

"So having the kids know that, if there is an instance where somebody is dying, and they know that, having them be able to reverse the overdose, it makes me feel a lot safer. And I think a lot of kids will benefit from having this within the school systems," Williams said.

And Courtney Gary-Allen, with the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project, says students have told her that they want be trained in overdose response, in order to assist their family and friends.

"And they said that that they would much rather have to respond to an overdose, and call 911, and give their parents naloxone, than bury them," Gary-Allen said.

The Maine Department of Education will hold a hearing on proposed rules implementing the new law on Nov. 17.

State agencies note that schools in Maine can request naloxone free of charge. The state passed a law two years ago allowing for the drug to be administered in school buildings.

In testimony earlier this year, the DOE said that more than 40 Maine schools reported to the state in 2022 that they had policies allowing naloxone to be stocked in their schools. More than three-quarters of those schools allowed unlicensed staff to administer the drug, if they were trained.

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