Local anti-drug charity with SHS ties passes national law

Walking the halls of Stevenson High School, one wouldn’t think to link their peers and environment with that of one commonly associated with drug abuse. However, Stevenson graduates who have overdosed from opioids like heroin and prescription pain pills (morphine, codeine, oxycodone, methadone and Vicodin) have claimed many headlines in the last decade.

Unfortunately, Stevenson’s student involvement with opioid abuse has always been and remains prevalent.

“Heroin use begins in the 18-25 year old population. But use of other substances, like marijuana and alcohol in high school can provide a gateway to opioid abuse after graduation.” said Cristina Cortesi, substance abuse prevention coordinator.

Recently, Stevenson sponsored three charities at Streetfest, one of which was Live4Lali, a driving force in the authentication of Lali’s Law in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 on July 22nd, an act that exclusively aims to prevent opioid abuse and overdose.

Live4Lali advocates against opioid abuse and strives to promote programs that provide help for addicts. Named after Alex Laliberte, a Stevenson graduate who passed away from an opioid overdose seven years ago, Live4Lali proposed a law that would increase access to Narcan (naloxone), an antidote used to temporarily counter the effects of heroin and other opioid overdose. Lali’s Law, now put into action after official legitimization, yields over-the-counter access to Narcan and creates about $11 million in grants to supply organizations who wish to obtain the medicine, including Stevenson and a couple of other local schools.

All authorities, from teachers and security to nurses and administrators, are now trained to use Narcan in case of emergencies. Health teachers are working overdose prevention information into teaching plans with great care.

“When teaching about narcotics, health teachers have to be careful to prevent wetting appetite for potential users,” said Tom Lowe, health teacher and head of physical health department. “The increased accessibility to Narcan is not a green light to start using opiates without any consequences.”

Despite the worries, studies done by the National Institute of Drug Abuse show that there is a significant decrease in opioid abuse over the past 5 years in all ages surveyed. Thanks to charities like Live4Lali, anti drug community programs like Stand Strong Coalition, Lake County Opioid Initiative and other local prevention outlets, opioid overdose and addiction rates are on the decline, and the increased accessibility and education of Narcan is definitely contributing to the successes. The World Health Organization predicts Narcan could save as much as 20,000 lives every year with Lali’s Law in action.

“The community effort and all around support removes shame and stigmas from reaching out for help,” said Lowe. “When students ask these organizations to come and talk in class, they are offered something teachers can’t contribute, and that’s experience with these kinds of cases.”