Legislation Proposed to Save Children from Drug Overdose in New Jersey

Legislation Proposed to Save Children From Drug Overdose in New Jersey

Legislation will be introduced in the New Jersey Legislature aimed at saving the lives of high school children from a drug overdose, it was  announced by Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo.

The proposed legislation, which highlights the problem locally and nationally, would mandate that public, private and charter high schools make Narcan (the opioid and heroin antidote) available  to students grades 9 through 12.

"It's unfortunate that this legislation is necessary," Mazzeo said in his  announcement, "but the reality is Narcan saves lives. We need it available wherever our children learn and play. I'm grateful for the school nurses and school employees who will be taking on the duty to act when a crisis hits."

Under the legislation, the school nurse will have the primary responsibility for the emergency administration of the opioid antidote and other employees can be designated to dispense the antidote on a volunteer basis. The bill directs the Department of Education to develop policies for the administration and training of staff for opioid antidotes and provides immunity from liability to the school district, its agents and to those who, in good faith, dispense Narcan. 

An Atlantic County Democrat, Mazzeo announced that the legislation has the support of the New Jersey State School Nurses Association, New Jersey School Boards Association and the New Jersey Education Association.

According to Mazzeo's press release, New Jersey's heroin death rate is triple the national average and more than 5,000 people have died from heroin-related deaths in the state since 2004, with 50 percent of them since 2011. In 2014, New Jersey reported that 28,332 people were admitted to some sort of treatment facility due to a heroin and opioid addiction. From November 2015 to April 2016 more than 1,700 individuals have been trained to administer Narcan.