By Abby Cohen
As we approach the one-year mark of the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, a new pandemic is coming to light: the opioid crisis. Obviously, this is nothing new to any American. Drug overdoses have been a major cause of death among citizens for years. But in Boulder County, an alarming and abnormal number of opioid overdoses among teens in our community have occurred within the last few months.
Teen overdoses in Boulder County
On February 6th, Boulder County released an article warning of fentanyl-laced Xanax and Oxycodone pills, two drugs popular among recreational users. Even without coroner reports for recent teen deaths, there is substantial evidence that laced drugs are circulating the streets of our county.
Hear what a local high school student has to say about the alarming number of teen opioid overdoses in Boulder County.
The only way to reverse an opioid overdose is by using a drug called Narcan, also known as Naloxone. This drug is easy to use; it’s administered by nasal spray. However, Narcan is expensive and often requires more than one dose to revive someone. Narcan can be provided by pharmacies for free to someone with Medicaid, but it tends to cost around $120 if bought at a pharmacy. This makes Narcan hard to obtain. Local rehabilitation facilities such as Natural Highs offer free Narcan and training on how to use it. This is an amazing aid to our community, but it still doesn’t reach everyone at risk for drug overdoses.
How BVSD can address the opioid crisis
I’m confident drug overdoses among my fellow teens would decrease if there were a location where BVSD students could anonymously pickup Narcan for free. A petition was started by a Colorado high school student to require schools to provide students with Narcan, drug testing strips, and training sessions on how to assist someone who is overdosing. At the time of the writing of this blog, the petition has 4,819 signatures.
4,819 is more students than the total enrollment of Boulder High School and Fairview High School combined. Clearly, there’s a consensus among my peers and me that change is necessary, but I’m concerned this petition won’t be enough to make change.
In order for this petition to create positive change, we need the support of BVSD educators and parents.
If the people paying taxes to fund the schools demand change, the district is much more likely to listen. We need more parents, teachers and staff sharing and signing this petition, and we need them to communicate their complaints directly to the schools and to our district leaders. Every voice makes a difference, as we cannot afford to lose another classmate due to drugs, when we have the power to save them.
Abby Cohen is a graduating senior at Fairview High School and a member of Impact on Education’s Student Advisory Board.