LEWISTON — School staff will soon have the option to receive training to recognize and treat opioid overdoses using Narcan.

Vicky Wiegman, the substance abuse specialist for the Lewiston school district, asked Langlais to bring the recommendation before the School Committee, which unanimously approved the proposal.

Wiegman encouraged the committee to not only think about students, but also the community members who come into the buildings.

There are few to no negative effects to the drug, which is administered as a nasal spray, she added. For a suspected overdose, the medicine can only help.

Resource officers carry Narcan, Langlais said, however he hopes to make the medication more accessible. He envisions encouraging nurses and administrative staff to attend the training, however he will support any staff member who wishes to attend.

David Bilodeau, options liaison for Androscoggin County at Tri-County Mental Health Services, said he would provide doses of Narcan and training to the school at no cost.

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In his role, Bilodeau works with all law enforcement agencies in Androscoggin County to follow up on overdoses. Last week there were 15 in Lewiston, he said.

“We are running into marijuanas laced with fentanyl in Lewiston,” he said. “So a kid who just smokes a little pot can have an overdose … that’s a big concern because even if the kids aren’t shooting up, if they smoke the wrong joint, they could overdose. And it’s growing, the numbers are getting scary.”

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent. Like morphine, it is typically used to treat patients with severe pain.

Nearly all School Committee members voiced their approval. Ward 2 representative Janet Beaudoin said she was initially hesitant about the proposal, however a discussion with local police helped change her mind.

“I was feeling really hesitant about this, just because I don’t feel like it’s a problem with school-age children,” she said. “I do see the benefits of it, and I will support this.”

“I’d rather you have it and never use it,” Bilodeau said, “but if you use it once in 10 years and save one kid’s life, that could be your kid. It could be my kid. I can’t say enough how strongly I recommend having it on hand.”


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