ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Central Florida is the first in Central Florida, and the first public university in the state, to give students and staff the power to save their own lives if they’re overdosing.
UCF now gives away Narcan for free without a prescription to anyone who is registered with the university.
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UCF police have been carrying the overdose-reversing drug since 2015. Often, it takes two doses to bring someone back to life.
Now, all students and staff members can get two doses of Narcan at no charge with no questions asked at the UCF Health Services pharmacy to keep with them or in their room or house.
Megan Giddens, a licensed clinical social worker and assistant director of the Substance Use Disorders Clinic at UCF, pushed for the university to take advantage of the free Narcan offered by the Orange County Drug-Free Coalition.
“We try to be ahead of the game as far as being proactive with preventive measures,” Gidden said. “So with the fentanyl crisis this would be something to give access to our students.”
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Giddens, though, admits she faced pushback.
Some feared that giving away Narcan would encourage overdoses. Giddens said there’s no evidence of that.
“Nationally there’s judgment attached to addiction,” Giddens said. “I once had a student tell me, ‘I was just scared to be seen in your waiting room.’ And I thought what? It’s so welcome, we have really gone out of our way to make it a really positive environment but there’s still that fear there. Just with the stigma. But I think campaigns like this with Narcan showing that we’re supporting student-centered preventive measures, I think that helps reduce that stigma. Will it ever go away? I don’t know.”
Giddens said what there is evidence of nearly 80% of people in Orange County who died from overdoses last year, according to the Drug-Free Coalition. They all had fentanyl in their system - the incredibly potent, easily available opioid mixed into more and more pills.
Since October, the Narcan giveaway has gotten results, Giddens said. The life-saving nasal spray, which typically costs $80, has been distributed for free to at least 43 people thus far.