(KRON) — In the South Bay, a new effort is underway to prevent young people from overdosing on fentanyl.
So far this year, Santa Clara County has seen 41 fentanyl-related deaths and the numbers have been climbing for the past four to five years. Fentanyl, an artificial opioid, is now being found mixed in with many common street drugs, including cocaine and heroin.
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Santa Clara County is now launching a new effort to hopefully keep young people from overdosing on fentanyl. County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said that over the next few months, the county will study the idea of providing Narcan and fentanyl test strips to schools across Santa Clara County.
Narcan can be used to treat someone who may have overdosed on fentanyl and the test strips can be used to test other drugs to see if fentanyl is present. By making these items available at schools, the county hopes young people will have access to tools that can save lives.
“What would be best is if people didn’t take illegal drugs but since people are, we want to make sure we are saving as many lives as possible. Especially for young people who really don’t know what they are ingesting,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
“The more we can do preventative work. Educate, provide the tools to families, schools and youth the better off we are, I think, in bending this curve and reducing the number of young people who are dying or overdosing,” said Bruce Copley, behavioral health services administrator.
There are no known cases of anyone overdosing on a school campus, but that is where kids congregate, and the hope is that they will pick these items up and use them elsewhere. Chavez said the county will not force schools to provide Narcan or the test strips.
“Every school is going to have to decide this for themselves. We are not dictating. We just want to make the resource available,” said Chavez.
Chavez added she hopes by late summer, the county will have a better idea of what is possible and what it will cost. The county ideally will have these resources available in the fall.