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Former teacher wants every school in Indiana to provide Narcan

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Five years ago, Indiana lawmakers passed a measure allowing all schools in the state to stock the opioid-reversal drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, and train staff on how to use it.

I-Team 8 has found that very few schools have taken advantage of the law and keep Narcan on hand.

A former teacher and school administrator wants that to change. Jeannette Craw is making it her mission to get Narcan into every school in Indiana.

“I don’t understand why we have defibrillators, we have EpiPens, but we don’t have naloxone in our schools,” Craw told I-Team 8. “It doesn’t make sense to me that this bill was passed in 2017 and I think three schools in Indiana that actually have it on hand as a reversal medication for opioid overdose.”

The three school districts are South Bend Community Schools, Jennings County Schools, and River Forest Community Schools in Hobart, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

At a college level, both Indiana University and Purdue University keep Narcan on campus.

“The best thing about it is, you can save a student,” Craw said. “As a former administrator, I would never want to look a parent in the eye and say, ‘Well, I could have had something.'”

Getting Narcan into the hands of parents, teachers, and anyone else living with an addiction is personal to Craw.

1,512 people died from opioid overdoses last year in Indiana, according to data from the state department of health, and Craw’s oldest daughter, Hannah Aldridge, was one of them.

Aldridge died on Oct. 21. She had been battling drug addictions for several years and had been in and out of treatment. Craw says her daughter was a good student in high school and attended IU on a President’s scholarship, studying neuroscience because she kew her addiction had impacted her brain.

“She was very knowledgeable about this chronic illness,” Craw told I-Team 8. “It was definitely a battle for her.”

Craw says that before her daughter died, she was making strides, had a job, owned a car, and was taking care of her 8-year-old daughter. 

 In the months following Hannah’s death, Craw found Overdose Lifeline. The organization gave her an outlet to channel her grief. 

“I was kind of really thinking about how can I use my experience as an educator and administrator and help other families,” Craw said. “I don’t want anybody to go what I’m going through.” 

Craw found a kindred spirit in Justin Phillips, the executive director of Overdose Lifeline. Phillips lost her son to a overdose in 2013. She worked to help state lawmakers pass Aaron’s Law in 2015, making it possible for any Hoosier to access Narcan without a prescription. Prior to this, only emergency workers were allowed to carry the drug.

Despite the 2017 measure allowing schools to administer the drug, many schools were hesitant hesitated to bring Narcan into their buildings until recently. 

“We know we have had students overdose on school campuses. We know that people visit school campuses for a lot of reasons, including sporting events, and you don’t even know who those individuals might be,” Phillips said. “The likelihood of someone overdosing, according to former U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, is greater than someone having a CPR event.”

Overdose Lifeline was awarded Monday with a $178 ,000 grant from the CareSource Foundation to help improve the prevention and response to opioid overdoses in schools.

The funds will be used to pay for Narcan kits for schools, develop a training course for school staff, and connect schools to evidence-based prevention programs.

Overdose Lifeline says they hope to have kits in 275 schools in the next three years.