Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Narcan now available for no cost on campus

Yufei Meng
The vending machine in the Little Building Mailroom offers Narcan. (Yufei Meng/Beacon Staff)

This semester, the Emerson chapter of the National Team Awareness Combatting Overdose (TACO) partnered with the Emerson Wellness Center (EWC) to offer Narcan on campus. 

Narcan sprays can now be found in the Sexual Health and Harm Reduction vending machine in the Little Building mailroom. TACO and the EWC are also planning on having Narcan kits available for emergency use in all residential halls, with signage educating students on how to use it properly. 

Naloxone, or Narcan, is a medicine used to help reverse opioid overdoses. These opioids include prescription medications, heroin, and fentanyl, according to the CDC. Bystanders can administer Narcan through a nasal spray or injectable.  

“We need a way for every student to be able to have [Narcan] because you never know what student is going to be the one to come across it,” creative writing senior and Emerson’s TACO chapter President Maddie Monroe said. 

Since the fall, Monroe has worked alongside the EWC and the risk management team to make offering Narcan a possibility. The EWC applied to become a Community Naloxone Program affiliate program through the state to procure Narcan brand kits to distribute on campus, an effort Monroe described as a “waiting game” because the approval process took several months. The supply of Narcan will be replenished each month if the program’s requirements are met, including reporting the number of doses taken to track how much Narcan was used on campus. 

“I felt it was something people should have on them at all points, especially at Emerson being such an urban campus,” Monroe said. “As much as there’s a chance of your average student coming across an overdose in a social setting … there’s also a good chance of a student coming across an overdose on the street because we’re in such an urban area, and that’s the culture we are in.” 

Monroe created Emerson’s TACO chapter during her sophomore year after working with them through her involvement with Wilde Press, an Emerson publishing club. She had to choose a charity to donate the funds she received from book sales. Her book dealt with instances of substance abuse and an overdose, topics TACO focuses on. Monroe applied to be an affiliate organization and got approval in the spring of her sophomore year.

Her involvement in the organization took the form of real-life applications when Monroe’s hometown experienced instances of four back-to-back overdoses. Her siblings then came to her for education on what an overdose is and how to act in response. 

“I was able to prepare them for the way we should be talking about drugs, which is not hiding away from it and not shaming anybody for whatever decisions they should make when it comes to that,” Monroe said. “It’s more about education and safety [and] harm reduction. The more people at Emerson know that knowledge, the more they can spread it to other people.” 

The national organization follows three main goals: fundraising to support its operations, educating the community on how to respond to an overdose, and providing the physical tools necessary to respond to such crises. For the Emerson chapter, Monroe aimed to have Narcan available on campus and create coinciding educational opportunities for students to recognize signs of an overdose and how to respond best. Both Monroe and the EWC felt there was a need for student accessibility to Narcan. 

“Overdoses are happening daily and affect people across all ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic statuses,” EWC said in an email statement to the Beacon. “Narcan on campus raises further awareness, increases accountability as a community, creates space for learning, and fosters an environment of acceptance and destigmatization of substance use.” 

Monroe hopes to expand the resources available for drug-related issues, including offering fentanyl strips, which help detect the presence of the drug in other drugs, in the future. She also aims to offer students educational opportunities through various platforms. The national TACO organization has a team of researchers and graphic designers who regularly post on their social media platforms to inform the public about drug-related issues and responses. The Emerson chapter frequently reposts these graphics and prints them out to distribute at their events. 

“Knowledge of overdose symptoms, Narcan administration, and understanding the global crisis of substance use and fentanyl trafficking is a public health initiative that we are all responsible for,” EWC said in a statement.

Monroe also helps organize guest speaker events as well, one of which was from Senior Executive-in-Residence at Emerson, Nancy Allen, who spoke on how drugs have disproportionately affected the BIPOC community.

“I don’t think anybody who comes across an overdose is ever expecting to do it, so the more people are hearing about it, even peripherally, the better chance they can then adequately respond in such a crisis,” Monroe said. 

Education exists within the TACO team itself. Monroe educates TACO members on how to identify an overdose and how to best respond to one. These topics are discussed at each of their general meetings to prompt action if someone were to witness an overdose. 

“I truly think there are enough topics under this umbrella that anybody could be interested at any given time,” Monroe said. “It’s so important for people to have a core education that they can take out into the world beyond this.” 

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About the Contributor
Bridget Frawley
Bridget Frawley, Staff Writer
Bridget Frawley (she/her) is a freshman journalism major from Jupiter, Florida. When she is not writing for the news section, she is a morning anchor for Mornings with George Knight of WERS 88.9 FM. She also loves reading, going on long walks, and thrifting.

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