Newsom’s $50 million opioids education pledge comes as colleges warn of risks

(Cal Matters) California would funnel $50 million into educating young people about the risks of opioids and fentanyl under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest budget proposal, which comes as colleges are trying to make students aware of the dangers of those drugs. 

Opioid overdoses nationwide have accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 100,000 Americans — and about 10,000 people in California — died of drug overdoses in the year ending in April 2021, a nationwide increase of 28.5% from the year before. 

And opioid overdose deaths have been steadily increasing for years among Californians age 34 and under, more than tripling from 1999 to 2019, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, has led to overdose deaths on campuses in the last several years — a sophomore at Stanford University died from an accidental fentanyl overdose in February 2020, as did three students at the University of Southern California in 2019. Some California colleges have begun training students and staff in the use of naloxone, a medicine that can reverse overdoses and is frequently used under the brand name Narcan. Read more.