Opioid overdose treatment naloxone may become available throughout campus

Leaders in the Student Wellness Department and Student Government on Iowa State’s campus have created a plan that could implement naloxone (Narcan) in AEDs throughout campus buildings and organizations.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, naloxone is a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose by attaching to opioid receptors and reversing and blocking the effects of other opioids. When naloxone is given to someone through a nasal spray or injection, it can bring someone who has overdosed back to normal breathing within minutes and has no effect on people who have not.

This medicine saves the lives of people affected by opioid overdose and has led leaders in the Student Wellness Department and Student Government at Iowa State to push for the implementation of Narcan in AEDs on campus.

Ryan Doyle is the health promotion coordinator in the Student Wellness Department who proposed the initiative in April 2022 when he saw other campuses and locations placing naloxone in pre-established AEDs.

Doyle met with the chief of police, legal teams and the Environmental Health and Safety Department, and they all had different concerns.

“It’s not like the university isn’t doing anything about it,” Doyle said. “It’s just a slow process, and they have to make sure that legally they are doing the right thing.”

One of the major obstacles that the initiative faced was naloxone being a prescribed medication, making it difficult for the university to obtain it in mass quantities for people who do not have a prescription.

Although this has been an obstacle, the FDA approved the first over-the-counter naloxone nasal spray in March, making this process more attainable for the university.

“The FDA thinks that around summer naloxone will become an over-the-counter, and once that happens, as long as the university wants it, they’ll be able to send it to us,” Doyle said.

Doyle’s plan began with placing naloxone in different AEDs throughout campus, but he also expressed other potential ideas like getting Thielen Health Center involved with a free naloxone distribution program along with an educational campaign for people on campus.

“I would love for every RA on campus to have it–not because I think that they need to have it because people are overdosing on an everyday basis, but because in the event they did need it, they could save someone’s life,” Doyle said.

Doyle’s ideas have been focused on campus buildings. However, other organizations like the Student Government have shifted their focus to fraternity houses.

Brandon Kamstra is the fraternity housing senator of the Iowa State Student Government, and he has taken this initiative a step further by discussing how we could take this plan to fraternities.

“I was given the information from a member of Triangle fraternity who pioneered the idea,” Kamstra said. “I then helped spread information on how to request naloxone for different facilities and later teamed up with UROC Sen. Ella Slade and Ryan Doyle to bring it to campus [since they were already in talks of doing so].”

Kamstra’s original plan was to get Narcan in all fraternity houses on campus, but now that he has expanded his idea, the goal is to have AEDs, naloxone and trauma kits all put together.

“The spark behind the conversation came from Triangle fraternity, but the reason I helped fan the flame is due to the use of various drugs in today’s society, not just in sororities and fraternities,” Kamstra said.
“Though illegal, the use of marijuana, ecstasy and abuse of prescription amphetamines [Adderall] is present at Iowa State, and rather than ignoring the issue due to the legality, making people aware of what to do when something goes wrong or is laced is my main goal.”

Triangle fraternity is one of the few fraternity houses on campus that have naloxone placed in the house, and they are currently working on scheduling a training session for members.

“Triangle has Narcan available on every floor for members,” said Cullen Oneil, a member of the Triangle fraternity. “We are in the works of scheduling a training session with Ryan Doyle, and we already have some members who are AED and naloxone certified.”

Doyle also mentioned that any business or location, including fraternities and sororities, in the state of Iowa can go to the Naloxone Iowa website and fill out the form provided for five free naloxone kits per location without having to notify the university.