A pre-med student, Kayla Aikins, was named campus captain of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Students For Opioid Solutions on Feb. 14. The Students For Opioid Solutions is a nonprofit organization across college campuses in the U.S. aimed at preventing university-related opioid deaths.
“[This appointment] could reduce the use of opioid substances as well as potentially save lives. It is important for students to feel safe on and off campus,” Aikins said. “Creating a safe environment with highly trained staff and personnel benefits everyone.”
According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioid-related deaths among Americans under the age of 24 nearly doubled from 2005 to 2015, when 3,165 cases were reported. The United States Department of Health and Human Services also disclosed that the number of opioid-related emergency room visits by this age group had almost doubled, from 52 per 100,000 patients to 97 in 2014.
According to the SOS, the grassroots movement plans to pass legislation that will reduce the number of deaths from opioid overdoses on college campuses. In order to pass this legislation, SOS must go through a five-step process.
SOS says they must first pass a student government legislation by calling upon school administrators to require that residential life and campus police officers receive training to recognize an opioid overdose. Once training is completed, the program must ensure that schools are able to annually record and report the number of opioid overdoses and deaths with a requirement of amnesty for those affected. Lastly, SOS will enact a Good Samaritan clause that will protect students who come to the aid of someone suffering from an opioid overdose.
“I have seen several incidents in which students were under the influence of opioid drugs,” Aikins said. “One of which involved a motorcycle accident close to campus. Opioid drugs are popular among certain groups of students who often use peer pressure to encourage others to use – this has been evident in student housing complexes such as The Republic.”
According to a press release, Kayla Aikins’ goal is to guide SOS’s life-saving legislation through the student government. Aikins says that she has a few propositions in mind such as mandating classes on recognizing signs of opioid overdose, requiring Naloxone to be carried by residential buildings and campus police, and requiring the university to annually report opioid overdoses.
“We are absolutely ecstatic to have Kayla on our team,” Gerald Fraas, president of SOS said. “She is a hard worker and dedicated to the cause,” Gerald Fraas, president of Students for Opioid Solutions said.
Karolina Rivas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @karolinarrivas.