AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the opioid epidemic continues across the nation, a group at the University of Texas at Austin is taking a proactive approach to keep students and staff safe.
Operation Naloxone is an organization on the University of Texas campus that educates people about the dangers of opioids, but it also hands out naloxone, a life-saving medicine.
“It has never been more dangerous to use an illegal drug,” said Lucas Hill who helps lead Operation Naloxone. “Operation Naloxone started in 2016 as a response to three reported overdoses that we had heard occurred to UT students.”
Initially, naloxone was put into residence halls, but the program has grown and is now in the Perry-Castaneda Library.
“It is no secret that young people experiment with drugs, and it happens a lot at many universities across the U.S.,” said Sofia Garcia, student director of Operation Naloxone.
Garcia leads training sessions and works to inform people about the dangers of opioids. She is also in charge of letting people know how they can access naloxone.
“You can show up to the library and don’t have to show your ID or anything just say ‘hey, can I have some naloxone?'” said Garcia.
Since the group started in 2016, it has distributed more than 1,900 doses of naloxone. During the 2021-2022 school year, it gave out 420 doses.
The numbers don’t paint a perfect picture though. Hill said, with no hard data, it can be hard to figure out just how often students are overdosing.
“Right now, we know we have given out many doses and trained many UT students, but we have received relatively few reports of use,” said Hill.
For now, they are being proactive, teaching classes and educating students about the dangers of opioids.
“We know the crisis is continuing, so we have to continue to evolve and we have to stay aggressive, vigilante,” said Hill.
Operation Naloxone provides training sessions to anyone who is looking to learn more about these dangerous drugs.