Staying Informed On Fentanyl

Novalea Verno, Staff Writer

Bloomsburg University is experiencing an opioid crisis kicked off by the death of senior Edward Heckler at the end of August. The school’s campaign for a drug-free campus has turned into a battle of time as the opioid epidemic continues to escalate. With each passing week, the atmosphere on campus grows tenser as students wait to see if anyone will fall victim to an accidental fentanyl overdose while partying. BU’s newest initiative to combat this involves spotlighting a resource free to all students- Narcan.

Narcan is a medicine that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, in this case with the intention of reversing a potential fentanyl overdose. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, more intense than morphine. It is often mixed with other drugs, making it difficult to be aware of its presence. Symptoms of a fentanyl overdose include small pupils, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, an individual making choking sounds, a limp body and clammy/discolored skin.

Narcan is available to students via BU’s Health Center during regularly scheduled hours. Narcan has been present on BU’s campus with all first responders having direct access well before the recent intensification of the opioid crisis. In light of the recent overdoses, BU made the decision to make the availability of this medication more obvious to students.

“[The overdoses at the beginning of the year] … really made us… intensify our efforts to say ‘Wow. We really need to get this out. How do we do it?”, said Stacey Brunozzi, the health director for BU’s student health center and campus health liaison for the Commonwealth.

The Narcan available to students comes in the form of a nasal spray. To use the nasal spray, insert the tip of the spray into one nostril. Gently push up into the nostril until your fingers on the bottle are against the other individual’s nose and then press the plunger firmly to release the dose. Narcan is safe to administer to individuals even if they aren’t overdosing.

A “no-ask” policy is in effect, allowing students to access the medicine without the worry of an interrogation. Students can simply walk into the health center during scheduled business hours and ask to pick up a box of Narcan. Staff at the center will ask students if they have any questions regarding administering it. Beyond that, the staff will not pressure students for any other information. The Narcan available is in brown paper bags.

“We decided to do the bags because we felt as though it was definitely more private than handing someone Narcan when they came in,” said Brunozzi.

Included in the bag are two doses of Narcan that are safe to use for up to three years, printed instructions for administration, a YouTube link to a video showing how to use it, information on the Medical Amnesty Law (protects students from prosecution for underage drinking or possession if seeking medical help for a peer), information on the Good Samaritan Law (protects drug users from prosecution if seeking help for a peer who is experiencing a drug overdose), surgical gloves, a paper face mask and dates of community events relating to Narcan distribution.

Along with this new push for spreading awareness of resources, the school is LSO encouraging students to be more aware of their surroundings to prevent potential fatalities

“Avoid any substances in pill, powder, or other form[s] that could be laced with fentanyl. Avoid taking any over-the-counter drugs that are not clearly marked with the drug’s name, as they may be laced with fentanyl,” advises the Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention and Intervention Services at BU.

If you suspect someone is overdosing on fentanyl do not hesitate to use this free resource. In cases where it is not possible to administer Narcan, always call 911.