The Center for Rural Behavioral Health partnered with Christian Family Solutions to provide students and staff the knowledge and tools to prevent an opioid overdose with Naloxone, also known as “Narcan.” The event took place in the Centennial Student Union at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and drew over 80 attendees.
Thad Shunkwiler, the center’s director, hopes events such as the prevention training and events in the future will spread awareness of the issue at MSU.
“Every single day in Minnesota, three people die of an overdose. I don’t think we talk about that enough. More people die from overdose than in car crashes. Awareness is always step one and step two is to get that life-saving medicine into as many hands as possible,” said Shunkwiler.
Stephanie Jordan is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor from Christian Family Solution, a faith-based counseling service in Mankato, and led the group training session.
“We want to be able to help saturate campus with Naloxone, help bring awareness to overdoses and people who have lost their lives to overdoses already and do things in their honor,” said Jordan.
Jordan demonstrated to attendees how to use their Naloxone kits. In addition, she detailed the history of the opioid crisis, signs of an overdose and Steve’s Law which protects people who call 911 in response to an overdose in Minnesota.
“Steve’s Law expanded access to Naloxone through pharmacies and third-party prescriptions, and provides some civil and criminal immunities if you are providing assistance for an overdose. Criminally, Steve’s Law protects from up to a third-degree drug possession charge,” Jordan stated.
Christian Family Solutions reached out to Shunkwiler over the summer about holding a training session for the MSU community.
“The push to hold more training sessions came from a Minnesota Department of Health Report this summer that showed that we had a 22% increase in overdoses from 2020 to 2021. We suspect that 2022 will have another jump. We’re seeing overdose rates at an all-time high in Minnesota,” said Shunkwiler.
Despite the growing number of deaths relating to drug overdoses, knowing how to prevent a death from overdose is not common knowledge.
Saron Lemma is a freshman at MSU who attended the prevention training. “I’m taking a health and environment class, and the professor encouraged us to come. I learned a lot. I didn’t know about the access we have to Naloxone or how it works, or how to help someone with an overdose.”
Although the numbers have risen across the state of Minnesota, the issue has yet to affect MSU on a large scale.
“I think of this as prevention. If just one of these students is able to use Naloxone to save someone’s life, think about how impactful that one hour on campus is,” said Shunkwiler.
The provider of the prevention kit, the Steve Rummler Hope Network, offers a map of access points for Naloxone in Minnesota on their website.
Header Photo: Naloxone is a drug that can help prevent an opioid overdose to an individual. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
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