Opioid Overdose Rescue Kits Placed in Cass County Schools

Times sure are changing. Fargo Cass Public Health has teamed up with Cass County high schools and middle schools  in a preventive effort to combat an opioid problem. At a November 16th news conference, it was announced that going forward all Cass County high schools and middle schools will begin carrying Narcan (naloxone)– a drug designed to reverse the effects of overdoses.

According to the article from the Fargo Public Schools website:

“No reported opioid overdose deaths of students, faculty or community members have occurred at these schools; the placement of Narcan at the schools is part of a preventive community-wide response to the opioid crisis. Designated school faculty and staff members will receive training on how to administer Narcan and provide rescue breaths to potentially save someone’s life. Additional community-wide trainings will be offered in the coming months at Fargo Cass Public Health.”

According to a report , in 2013 there were 20 people that died as a result of opioid overdoses in the entire state of North Dakota. Then in 2014 that number more than doubled to 43. In 2015 it increased to 61. And while the rate of growth slowed in 2016, the year still ended with 68 deaths.

Numbers specific to Cass County show the following information:

There are at least two things that stand out to me from these statistics.

First, Cass County’s 31 deaths in 2016 represent over 45% of the deaths in the entire state of North Dakota for that year.

Second, if the 2017 rate continues, the number of Cass County deaths in 2017 may be nearly half what it was in 2016. This is encouraging considering they represent such a large percentage of the state-wide number.

While the focus here has been on overdoses, it leaves to me to wonder how much of a problem opioids are in these public schools? While there have been no apparent deaths, is opioid abuse a problem among the middle school and high school students? Thus the reason for the preventive measure of placing Narcan in these schools?

We certainly live in changing times. When I was in school, the biggest issues facing middle school and high school students were tobacco and beer. And all we had on hand for emergencies were fire extinguishers. But now we’re saying that these schools must have a drug to reverse overdoses on hand for those as young as twelve.

While it is admirable that public health and school officials are trying to do their part; perhaps the most effective way to combat the opioid problem – or any risky behavior for that matter – is to embrace the support system found in the home. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that positive parenting can actually prevent drug abuse.

Let’s hope that the 2017 numbers related to opioid overdoses carry through and reflect an overall reduction by years end. The trends must be reversed for a myriad of reasons. But when it comes to education, I think we can expect more parents to remove their children from public schools in favor of alternative forms of education if the overall problem of opioid abuse isn’t turned back. And would you blame them? I certainly wouldn’t.


1. https://www.fargo.k12.nd.us/cms/lib/ND01911460/Centricity/domain/94/journey/features/20171116_Narcan_in_Schools.pdf 2. http://www.kfyrtv.com/content/news/Opioid-Overdoses-on-the-Rise-458811223.html

3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup

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About T. Arthur Mason 883 Articles
T. Arthur Mason is a native North Dakotan who has spent nearly all of his life in the Peace Garden State. As the third of four children in Western North Dakota, Mason grew to appreciate family and the outdoors. Some of his fondest memories are annual deer hunts with family and friends. In his early teenage years, faith became a central part of T. Arthur Mason's life. He and the majority of his family attend church together on a weekly basis and find this a fulfilling aspect of their lives. Through the influence of his father, T. Arthur Mason became intrigued with politics. As a boy, he attended political events with his father and enjoyed the friendships that resulted as a byproduct of those political associations. As Mason grew older, he became convinced that the quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson was true, "That government is best which governs least." Today, T. Arthur Mason enjoys time with his wife and children, an occasional hunt, and an increasingly active life on the political scene. This blog is the fulfillment of a dream to design a web site in the realm of politics and to advocate for the principles of Liberty and constitutionally limited government. On behalf of all those that contribute to The Minuteman, we hope you enjoy your time on the site and will share the message with others.