New California law requires public colleges, universities to bolster campus opioid prevention services

New California law requires public colleges, universities to bolster campus opioid prevention services

A new California law that would provide the state’s public colleges and universities with greater access to opioid overdose medications, such as naloxone, as part of an enhanced student campus safety program, will enter into force on January 1, 2023.

The new law aims to increase campus awareness of the dangers of opioid use, addiction and the potential for student overdoses.

Senate Bill 367, known as the Opioid Safety on Campus Act, would require California community colleges and state universities to provide opioid prevention information and resources as part of campus orientations.

“Many overdose deaths can be prevented with naloxone, a life-saving drug that is available to many colleges and universities at no cost,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, director of the California Department of Public Health and state public health officer. in a statement.

“Some colleges already make naloxone and overdose education a top priority, and our goal is to continue to support them while also breaking down the additional barriers and stigma that can prevent us from talking about overdose and keeping students alive,” Aragon said.

Between 2016 and 2022, there were 49 drug overdose deaths among Sonoma County residents ages 18 to 24, according to the latest Sonoma County public health data.

Those drug overdose deaths rose from four in 2016 to 11 in 2020, but fell to six in 2021 and five in 2022. The 2022 data covers the period through Dec. 28 and is considered preliminary, officials said.

Of the 49 deaths, nearly 70% were male, about 82% were residents of Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Sonoma Valley and the Cotati/Petaluma/Penngrove region. Two deaths were of people considered homeless.

Officials said 42 of the 49 deaths involved opioids — specifically, 29 involved fentanyl — and 88% of the deaths were classified as unintentional while 6% were classified as suicides. Three of the deaths are pending classification.

Dr. Sundari Mase, the county’s health officer, said students at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University will benefit from the Opioid Safety on Campus Act.

“Opioid overdose deaths are tragic, especially among young people,” Mase said. “Anything we can do to provide education and access to anti-overdose medications, such as naloxone, will help save lives.”

The new law requires the governing board of each community college district and California State University trustees to require campus health centers to seek state authorization to dispense doses of a federally approved opioid overdose medication.

Campuses are expected to collaborate with campus-based and community-based recovery advocacy organizations to provide relevant educational and prevention information. Medicines will be supplied to the campuses free of charge.

Officials at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University could not immediately be reached Wednesday.

You can contact Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or [email protected]. On Twitter @pressreno.

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