All public schools in Maryland will have to have naloxone available in their campuses for the upcoming school year.
Naloxone is a drug that can reverse the effects of a prescription opioid or heroin overdose. It is commonly referred to as "Narcan".
The new requirement is the result of legislation that was passed in Annapolis earlier this year. The "Start Talking Maryland Act" also requires schools to have education programs that discuss the dangers of opioid and heroin addiction. Students can expect classes to start as early as the third grade.
Montgomery County Public Schools is one of the local school districts adjusting to the new requirements. It plans to have naloxone in all 205 of its campuses by the beginning of the 2017 school year.
MCPS Associate Superintendent Jonathan Brice told WUSA9 he welcomes the new rule.
"It is in the interest of school systems and schools to be prepared for almost every eventuality," he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015, opioid overdoses killed, on average, 91 Americans a day. Ginger Rosela lost her son, Jake Paddy, to an accidental drug overdose. She said legislation like the "Start Talking Maryland Act" is needed given the enormity of the nation's opioid and heroin problem.
"We have lost a generation to this epidemic," she said.
Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said Baltimore City schools already have naloxone in all of their campuses. Wen gained attention in 2015 when she wrote what she called a "blanket prescription" of naloxone for everyone in Baltimore City. Since then, thousands of people in Baltimore have been trained as to how to use naloxone and Wen said it has already made a difference.
"Every day residents have used naloxone to save the lives of over 1,000 of their fellow residents," she said.