Rutgers overdose prevention efforts commendable
As an alumna and former member of Residence Life staff, I was glad to read about overdose prevention efforts moving forward in the Rutgers community in The Daily Targum’s Sept. 10 article, “Rutgers addresses heroin issues in University community.” It is excellent to know the Rutgers University Police Department is in the process of equipping officers with the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone (Narcan). Similar initiatives are underway on other local campuses like Montclair State, Monmouth and William Paterson. First responders in various parts of the state have already saved more than 100 lives with naloxone, including multiple teenagers and individuals in their 20s.
While emergency personnel certainly play an integral role in overdose response, it is equally important to remember the Overdose Prevention Act allows doctors to provide naloxone to anyone who may be able to help in an overdose situation. People are rarely alone when they overdose, as peers or loved ones are likely on the scene. If witnesses have naloxone on hand, they can safely and easily administer it to restore the victim’s breathing as quickly as possible while waiting for professional help to arrive. This reduces the possibility of brain damage and death when every moment counts.
And in addition to expanding access to naloxone, the Overdose Prevention Act encourages calling 911 by protecting overdose victims and those seeking help from drug charges. The law reminds us that saving a life always takes precedence over punishing behavior.
It is becoming increasingly clear that on the Rutgers campus and beyond, New Jerseyans are committed to preventing needless, untimely overdose deaths. I urge the Rutgers community to continue their efforts.
Amanda Bent is a class of 2005 Rutgers University and class of 2008 Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy alumna. She is a New Jersey Policy Associate with the Drug Policy Alliance.