School resource officers with the Durham County Sheriff’s Office who work in some of Durham’s public schools are now equipped with naloxone, a life-saving tool in the fight against opioid overdoses.
The Sheriff’s Office announced the program in a release Thursday. Funding for the program comes from a donation from Together for Resilient Youth (TRY), a Durham nonprofit youth drug prevention group. School resource officers will carry naloxone (sold under the brand name Narcan) kits at Hillside High School, Holton Career & Resource Center, Jordan High School, Northern High School, Riverside High School, School for Creative Studies and Southern High School.
Durham School of the Arts is not on that list because school resource officers with the Durham Police Department, not the Sheriff’s Office, are assigned to that campus, said Tamara Gibbs, public information officer for the Durham County Sheriff’s Office.
Naloxone comes in an injectable form as well as a nasal spray. Naloxone can reverse the effects of overdoses of opioids — prescription pain killers like oxycodone, vicodin and other drugs, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin. All opioids, legal and illegal, are derived from opium.
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Sheriff’s Office deputies will be using the nasal spray, said Gibbs. The resource officers will administer the anti-overdose medication on a case-by-case basis, Gibbs said. “They’re not handing them out and distributing them to students,” she said.
School resource officers are sworn law enforcment officers who also are trained in how to engage with young people, Gibbs said.
In September 2017, the Sheriff’s Office launched an overdose prevention initiative after 75 deputies and detention officers were trained to administer naloxone hydrochloride. Deputies in the schools program received the same training. The Sheriff’s Office supports the efforts of the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC), which distributes the kits, and is committed to routinely reviewing the agency’s arrest and incident reports to identify individuals who may be at risk of an opioid overdose, according to a release from Gibbs.
“We’ll continue to work with groups like Durham’s TRY because it’s critical we have a real impact on people affected by this epidemic,” Sheriff Mike Andrews said. “We can’t do it alone, which is why we’re extremely grateful for community partnerships that will reverse overdoses and prevent drug abuse.”
According to the NCHRC, the Durham County Sheriff’s Office is among nearly 200 law enforcement agencies in North Carolina carrying naloxone.