NEW BRITAIN – The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system is trying to decrease the chance of fatal opioid overdoses on campuses by making NARCAN available on campuses.
NARCAN, a drug that stops opioid overdoses once administered, will be readily available on all 16 CSCU campuses by the end of the fall semester. President Mark Ojakian joined officials and activists at Central Connecticut State University to make the announcement.
“It’s no mystery to anybody in this room that in the country and in our state we’re having a crisis around the use of opiate drugs and that people are overdosing accidently because of the use of these drugs,” Ojakian said to activists, students and media personnel in CCSU’s Bellin Gallery.
Ojakian said NARCAN is already available at the CSCU’s four state universities and other campuses will be equipped with the drug in the coming weeks.
“NARCAN is an opioid antagonist. The only purpose of NARCAN is to bring someone out of an opioid overdose. If I gave myself NARCAN right now, nothing would happen,” said Shawn Lang, an activist fighting Connecticut’s opioid crisis. “It should be in every medicine cabinet, every first aid kit – everybody should have NARCAN available.”
Lang said it is important that NARCAN becomes more readily available.
“NARCAN saves lives, you can save lives, please spread the word among your peers and among your family and friends to make sure people have access to this,” Lang said.
Mayor Erin Stewart said that NARCAN availability is a great thing for a city like New Britain to have.
“This is no joke. I’ve had friends who have overdosed and died. At 30 years old, that’s a little scary,” Stewart said. “We all know someone in our lives … whose been affected by this.”
Stewart said in New Britain there will be at least a 40-percent increase in the use of NARCAN by emergency responders this year compared to last year.
“That is a scary, sobering thought,” Stewart said.
The mayor added that the New Britain Fire Department has been working with New Britain Emergency Medical Services to be trained in the use of nasal NARCAN and will be available in fire trucks for first responders.
Bruce Baxter, CEO of New Britain EMS, said EMS will start offering a series of programs for the general public related to opioid use and what they can do to help save lives. The programs will begin in January.
Ojakian said that there have been overdoses and opioid related deaths on CSCU campuses, but did not provide a number on how many potential overdoses have occurred.
“We need your help,” Ojakian asked of students. “We can provide education, we can provide information, we can provide services to students as they need them. But if you see something happening and you’re concerned about the safety of one of your fellow students, please say something.”