MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Opioid addiction and abuse is a scary reality in our country and state.
A new program spearheaded by the state's Department of Education and Department of Public Health is giving high schools access to a reversal drug in the event of an opioid overdose. They put a training program in place for schools to voluntarily implement.
Madison County Schools Superintendent Matt Massey says that back in October of 2017 they started looking into enacting proactive measures to prevent and handle these kinds of scenarios.
There were cost and supply hurdles to overcome at first, but in January 2019, they received an email from State Superintendent Eric Mackey that made the possibility readily available.
At $178 a dose, the state secured a grant to allow schools access to Naloxone -- an opioid overdose reversal drug.
CBS News This Morning visited Sparkman where 11th graders in the medical program were learning how the auto-injector device, Evzio works.
"It's very similar to an EpiPen so it's relatively easy to use, which is good," said Sparkman High School 11th grader, Bella Powell.
A medical emergency response team (MERT) will be trained to administer the drug. That will include nurses, principals and assistant principals. In some schools, coaches and teachers will also be trained.
Madison County Schools lead nurse Donna Stiles says two teams have already been trained and four more are in the process.
In 2017, more than 400 opioid-related overdose deaths were reported in Alabama.
The school system says they hope to have the reversal drug by mid-May. It will then be distributed to all 27 schools in the system.