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CHARLESTON — Two organizations fighting opioid abuse have partnered together to make an overdose-reversing drug more easily accessible in emergencies on college and university campuses across West Virginia.

The West Virginia Collegiate Recovery Network (WVCRN) and the West Virginia Drug Intervention Institute (WV DII) recently launched the “Be The One” initiative, which focuses on opioid overdose prevention from a bystander’s perspective and encourages students, staff and faculty to be the one to save a life.

The first project of the initiative includes the distribution and installation of 50 opioid “Naloxboxes” on college and university campuses across the Mountain State. The opioid rescue kits hang on walls for easy access and contain two doses of the opioid reversal medication naloxone and training materials instructing individuals how to administer it during an active overdose.

The goal is that the initiative will increase prevention and recovery efforts on West Virginia campuses, educating individuals in medication safety and training them how to properly respond to an overdose.

The Naloxboxes will be installed in locations at BridgeValley Community and Technical College (CTC), Concord University, New River CTC, West Virginia State University, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Southern West Virginia CTC and West Virginia University, as well as the Erma Byrd Center for Higher Education.

Susie Mullens, director of the WVCRN, said naloxone should be easily accessible everywhere and hopes the initiative will decrease stigma while providing a vital resource to save lives.

As someone who worked on college campuses for 25 years, and also responded to a campus overdose, Dr. Susan Bissett, president of the WV DII, said she believes that this initiative is much needed.

“College campuses are representative of the communities in which they are housed; and they are often the hub for activity in their town,” she said. “Our campus buildings have AEDs, first aid kits and fire extinguishers and so the Naloxbox is just one more way to keep our campuses, our students and our communities safe.”

New River Community and Technical College’s President Dr. Bonny Copenhaver said she was grateful for the resources.

“As we kick off the spring semester, we are holding naloxone training for our staff and faculty, and we can have Naloxboxes on all our campuses thanks to this program,” she said. “Participating in the ‘Be the One’ initiative is a way that we can be prepared to support our students in a moment of crisis and hopefully save a life.”

Courtney Hessler is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch, covering state government, health and Marshall University. Follow her on Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.

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