File Photo

Dept. of Health to give Naloxone to schools as opioid overdoses increase

Opioid-related fatalities among adolescents ages 14-18 have surged almost threefold in recent years.

According to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), opioid-related drug overdose deaths in Washington have risen dramatically, particularly among young people.

The department reports that rates of opioid-related fatalities among adolescents aged 14-18 have surged almost threefold from 3.6 per 100,000 individuals in 2016 to 10.6 per 100,000 individuals in 2022. This increase is largely attributed to the increase of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, in the illegal drug supply.

In response to the urgency of the situation, the DOH is offering all public high schools across the state naloxone. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a safe and effective medicine that can reverse the harmful effects of an opioid overdose, including one caused by fentanyl.

According to the DOH Naloxone is available in a nasal spray that can be given to anyone, any age, during a suspected opioid overdose and has no harmful effects even if opioids are not present in the system.

DOH is partnering with Educational Service Districts to offer all public comprehensive and alternative high schools two kits of intranasal naloxone. This offer from DOH is “voluntary” and supports the Washington law requiring school districts with 2,000 students or more to stock at least one set of opioid overdose reversal medication in each high school. Smaller school districts may also choose to obtain and maintain naloxone in their schools.

“Equipping Washington high schools with naloxone is a commonsense strategy to protect our students from opioid overdose,” said Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer and board-certified pediatrician. “Some kids experiment with substances, unaware that just one counterfeit pill can contain enough fentanyl to be fatal. Providing access to naloxone will not only save lives, but also send a powerful message that we care about the health of our youth.”

Individuals and families can purchase naloxone over the counter or obtain it from a pharmacy using the statewide standing order, which acts like a prescription for anyone in the state at risk of witnessing or experiencing opioid overdose.

Information on how to prevent and respond to drug overdoses can be found on the DOH website, including links to resources on how to talk with teens about fentanyl. The “Prevent Overdose WA” campaign informs Washingtonians about the risks of opioids and fentanyl and the power of naloxone to reverse overdoses. In addition, DOH’s Opioid and Drug Overdose Data and Unintentional Drug Overdose Data dashboards provide useful insights for addressing substance use in the state.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Kent School District announces employees of the year for 2023-2024

Top teacher, principal, bus driver, coach, paraeducator, custodian and more

Medical examiner identifies second victim in fiery Kent car crash

Troy Thorp, 61, died in May 11 single-vehicle crash along South 272nd Street on West Hill

Kent man, 52, receives reduced sentence in Seattle fatal shooting

Pleads guilty to lesser charge of manslaughter after video of 2020 shooting indicates self-defense

Kent Police use drone, K-9 unit to capture assault suspect

Man had fled after fight with security guard at apartment complex along SE Kent-Kangley Road

Jail bars. File photo
Renton man convicted in 2018 Des Moines homicide

Jurors found 28-year-old Yourhighness Jeramiah Bolar of Renton guilty of two felony charges.

One of two victims identified in fiery Kent crash

Kristen Anne Meyers, 53, died in May 11 crash on West Hill, according to medical examiner

City-owned ShoWare Center in Kent loses $742,675 in 2023

Losses lower than projected but expenses continue to exceed revenue at 6,200-seat arena

Kent firefighters extinguish two fires on the same morning | Photos

Friday, May 17 at apartment leasing office in the Valley and at a vacant East Hill house

Courtesy Photo, City of Kent
City of Kent population drops by 1,051 in 2023 compared to 2022

Decline similar to many cities of 50,000 or more across the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau

Kent Police Blotter: April 25 to May 8

Incidents include burglaries, robberies, shootings

Rape charges dismissed against former Kent school bus driver

Prosecutors decide they could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt due to medical tests

Feds indict 9 South King County residents on drug trafficking charges

Those accused from Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Enumclaw