Students Educating Students: NaloxoneSC Distribution Program in the USC School of Pharmacy

by Diana Ulloa

The pandemic has not stopped USC graduate students from eagerly helping their peers. A student-led program of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) chapter at the USC School of Pharmacy are increasing access to naloxone for students, while bringing awareness to mental health and overdose.

“College campuses across the country are seeing a rise in opioid related overdoses, which is why being educated on naloxone is so important. I like to compare it to a fire extinguisher — you never know when you will need it, but it can save lives during an emergency,” said Rita Chan, CPNP President-Elect.

What is naloxone? Naloxone (Narcan nasal spray) is an opioid overdose reversal and lifesaving medication used for emergencies.

box containing naloxone
The Naloxone SC program provides training in use of Narcan, as well as drug testing supplies, as part of a harm reduction program to fight opioid overdose.

The NaloxoneSC program, overseen by USC School of Pharmacy faculty and supported by USC Student Health and the Student Well-being Collective, have collaborated in effort to make the distribution of naloxone available to students. The funding for this distribution was made possible through the California Department of Health Care Services Naloxone Distribution Project (NDP).

“CDHCS receives funding through SAMHSA to combat opioid overdoses. These programs are intended to utilize the loosened restrictions on naloxone distribution to get this life-saving reversal agent into the hands of people who can distribute it to their communities of need. These can include first responders, homeless programs, community organizations, and universities,” said David Dadiomov, Program Advisor and Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice at USC School of Pharmacy.

USC students who are interested in learning and receiving a free naloxone kit can log into the CPNP NaloxoneSC website. CPNP has simple instructions for students to follow in order to pick up a naloxone kit from the USC Engemann Student Health Center or Eric Cohen Student Health Center.

CPNP students
USC School of Pharmacy CPNP students promoting the Naloxone SC program (pre-Covid event).

Dadiomov added, “I’ve been so impressed with the dedication and passion the students have displayed in developing and implementing this program. This program was born out of the CPNP-USC student group wanting to give back to their campus communities by utilizing their knowledge in drug use and overdose prevention.”

“Prevention programs such as Naloxone SC are an important aspect of population health for college students,” says Dr. Sarah Van Orman, chief health officer and division chief for college health at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Partnering with the students who created this program is particularly gratifying, as they are familiar first-hand with contemporary issues and norms in college culture. They have put tremendous thought and research into creating this program, and we hope this will educate students and save lives.”

Students may also contact the medical and mental health providers at the USC Student Health center for more questions about the use of naloxone or support in creating healthy habits. They can be reached at (213) 740-9355 (WELL) or by scheduling an appointment through MySHR.