On Tuesday, Feb. 6, AWARENESS, which is a substance abuse early intervention program hosted a free community training program for the use of Narcan, which is used for the reversal of an opioid overdose.
The training session was attended by 28 people including New Paltz High School Principal Barbara Clinton, the school’s social worker Lisa Watkins and school psychologist Mary K. Fiore. Free Narcan kits were also given to the participants after the training session concluded.
Narcan was made available across New York State in March 2016, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Narcan independent pharmacies in the state are able to provide Narcan to their customers without a prescription.
“Heroin addiction has taken the lives of far too many New Yorkers, but today we are taking an important step forward in battling this epidemic,” Cuomo said in a statement on the governor’s website. “By making this life saving medication available in drugstores without a prescription, we are continuing to prevent needless tragedies from occurring and ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to this critical medication.”
The executive director of AWARENESS, Marie Shultis, was also in attendance. Shultis appreciates the efforts that the New Paltz School District has taken to educate the community about Narcan.
“I thought the training program went really well. New Paltz has been the most proactive school district in Ulster County when it comes to working with us at AWARENESS,” Shultis said.
Shultis also discussed how AWARENESS has an after school program within the New Paltz school district.
“We’ve provided an after-school program in New Paltz High School for students mandated by the court for the past five years,” Shultis said. “This year we now have 25 volunteer high school students who became trained to be Peer Leaders in addition to those mandated that participate in the program.”
Those who have been mandated to the program are students who have gotten in trouble with drugs and alcohol. AWARENESS was established 12 years-ago and considers itself a non-judgmental, peer-to-peer, educational program addressing behavioral health, substance use, anger, coping skills etc. The group proides aid for youth ages 16-18 and 19-24 to help them identify if any behavior modification is needed.
With how well the training session went at New Paltz, Shultis is hoping for more of these sessions in the future.
“We are hoping to do more of these training sessions in other school districts throughout Ulster County.”