The University of Texas at Austin is working to get a drug that stops people from overdosing on opioids, such as heroin and prescription pills, into the hands of resident advisors and campus police. The student government recently approved a resolution, and advocates are working to get a standing order at the school’s pharmacy.
Stephanie Harmborsky with Students for Sensible Drug Policy at UT Austin said there are still more steps to be taken, but the big plan here is to get a ready supply of naloxone – a life-saving drug that reverses the effects of opioid use – at the school’s pharmacy. Hamborsky said the school’s pharmacy and a doctor at the school are both on board, but there are still other things to work out.
“Will there be a case of naloxone in all dorms? Or will UTPD have a certain number of vials on hand? So, [we'll be] kind of figuring the logistics of how that will work,” she said.
UT School of Social Work graduate student James Walker, who also works with the Austin Harm Reduction Coalition, said the order would be helpful to those immediately responding to an overdose on campus.
“The idea is to empower those first responders to student crisis,” Walker said. “Those people who are most likely to wander up when somebody is in a bad situation, even before emergency services would get there.”
Walker said he hopes others schools follow their lead and do the same.
“We did create this initiative to act as a template and an example with the idea that it would be adopted by a satellite campus of UT and other college campuses as well,” he said.
Last year, state lawmakers passed a bill aimed at increasing access to naloxone in an effort to address the state’s ongoing opioid crisis. UT Austin’s wellness department is also creating a committee aimed at tackling the problem on campus.