Resources to Prevent Opioid Overdose in Maine Schools

As directed by the 130th Maine legislature the Department of Education created and collected guidelines and resources for schools who choose to stock emergency medication for a suspected opioid overdose on school grounds.  Naloxone is used in opioid overdoses to counteract life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system, allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. Naloxone is a nonscheduled (i.e., non-addictive), prescription medication. Naloxone only works if a person has opioids in their system; the medication has no effect if opioids are absent. It can be administered by trained persons, which makes it ideal for treating a person experiencing an apparent opioid overdose during school or a school-sponsored activity or otherwise on school grounds. The Rule for Medication Administration in Schools [05-071, Ch. 40, Section 6 (last revised 5/11/2022)], outlines the requirements if a school administrative unit plans to stock naloxone. However, schools must consider including naloxone as only one strategy in combatting substance use disorder.

The Substance Use Among Young Adults Summary in Maine was recently released by Maine CDC and reported that in 2020, nearly one in three young adult Mainers qualified as having a substance use disorder: ranking Maine 3rd in the nation. Research suggests that the area of the brain responsible for decision-making does not fully mature until 25 years of age, making this population more vulnerable to risky and harmful behaviors. Now more than ever we must focus on upstream primary prevention efforts before negative health outcomes occur. Prevention programs within schools can be part of comprehensive health education and social-emotional learning.

Health education can assist students to be better consumers of information, manage the complex world around them and be more inclusive of others. Through an effective skills-based health education curriculum, students will practice skills that protect, promote, and enhance lifelong health. Similarly improving foundational social emotional skills such as self-awareness, self- regulation, social awareness (empathy, compassion & respect for self and others), relationships and critical thinking skill development can be applied to address risk factors for substance abuse. These educational programs can complement a Substance Use Policy within a school administrative unit along with distributing naloxone and educating people about how to prevent, recognize and intervene in overdoses to prevent deaths.


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Contact the Office of School and Student Supports at with questions.