USC is looking to provide students with easier access to Narcan, an opioid overdose antidote, by offering it at the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center.
About one in four college campuses have an opioid and opiate abuse rate that exceeds 10%. College-aged youth also have had the highest rate of non-medical use of prescription opioids in the United States, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education Coalition.
In Richland County alone, there were roughly 128 EMS Narcan administrations, 116 opioid hospitalizations, 25 opioid overdose deaths and 21 fentanyl-related overdoses in 2022. Narcan, or naloxone, is intended to help relieve the most dangerous effects of opioid overdoses in an emergency.
"While drug use and overdoses are not widespread issues at USC, college campuses are considered high-risk communities," Aimee Hourigan, the director of the Substance Abuse Prevention and Education office, said in an email to The Daily Gamecock. "We know that college students are at increased risk of using other substances, so we want to be able to provide that resource to them."
Narcan comes in the form of nasal spray and
is administered to one nostril at a time and should not be used in place of emergency medical services. Instead, it is meant to buy time until first responders can reach the scene. Common signs of an impeding opioid overdose include extreme sleepiness, slow or shallow breathing, small pupils, slow heartbeat and low blood pressure, according to USC Student Health Services.
To administer Narcan, the dispenser of the antidote should lay the recipient on their back and release the spray into one nostril only, with each nasal spray only being used once. Then, the administrator should immediately turn the recipient onto their side and call emergency medical services. The administer should continue to monitor the recipient until help arrives and give another dose every two to three minutes or if the recipient's breathing becomes shallow again.
“I think it’s a great thing," first-year undecided student Jenna Esposito said. "I think every student should have it on them, just in case something occurs.”
Another student, first-year social work student Madison Evans agreed with Esposito, saying that having Narcan in an additional location will be a benefit for students.
“I think it’s a great thing to offer because there's a lot of kids that are getting into bad situations at a young age," Evans said. "I feel like we’re losing a lot of people in this generation."
In the event of a potential overdose, the University of South Carolina has an Overdose Medical Treatment Policy, which states “the university will not hold students or student groups who seek or receive medical assistance in perceived overdose situations accountable for violations of the university’s Student Code of Conduct related to alcohol or drug related misconduct.”
USC also has a program called Gamecock Recovery, which is run through SAPE and helps students recover from alcohol and substance abuse. The mission of Gamecock Recovery is to provide students in recovery with a variety of programs, both group and individual to "promote a nurturing campus and community environment to ensure that all students in recovery can achieve academic and personal success."
The South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services also offers many resources, such as providing additional information on specific drugs and where someone can begin receiving help for addiction.
Narcan is available for students from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day on demand at the SAPE office on the third floor of the Strom Thurmond Fitness and Wellness Center. Students can also ask for Narcan at the Center for Health and Well-Being's pharmacy from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.