Local Experts Educate Parents, Faculty, and Administrators on Drug and Online Safety
An issue that has been front and center these days is the opioid epidemic. Like most troubling news, sometimes it can seem as though it’s happening somewhere far away. Unfortunately, the reality is that often it’s not. Since 1999, deaths caused by opioid overdoses have skyrocketed from 21,089 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and over 80,000 in 2021. Across the country, fatalities are happening in suburban towns, urban communities, and everywhere in between.
Bronxville PTA President, Amy Krause and President -Elect, Deirdre Doheny, spearheaded a school community panel discussion to provide an educational forum to discuss related student safety. Bronxville parents and New York-Presbyterian Westchester Hospital Emergency Medicine physicians, Dr. Trish Toolan and Dr. Susan Raju and their colleague Dr. Anita Mudan presented to an audience of parents, faculty, and administrators in the Bronxville Auditorium on March 29th. The doctors shed light on the crisis and the reasons behind it. Also present on the panel was Bronxville Police Chief Christopher Satriale, Bronxville Police Officer Michael Lewis, and Dr. Joyce Vastola- C.A.R.E. program instructor and school psychologist.
Dr. Mudan, a Toxicologist and Assistant Professor at Columbia University Medical Center, walked the audience through the basics of opioid classifications and the distinction between pharmaceutical and synthetic opioids. Pharmaceutical Fentanyl is a regulated, prescribed opioid that has the strongest binding effect to receptors in the brain to alleviate pain. It can be administered intravenously, through the epidermis using a patch, or orally in the form of a lozenge. Synthetic Fentanyl or Illicit Fentanyl is manufactured in clandestine laboratories. It is known for high potency (100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin), low cost, and ubiquitously mixed with other drugs available to buy on the street. It can be smoked, injected, snorted, or ingested. What followed was a word of caution from Dr. Mudan, “Any type of drug that is purchased off the street can be traced with Fentanyl.”
The prevalence of synthetic fentanyl showing up in every type of drug has raised alarming statistics, thereby rendering the popular sports saying in the medical community, a good offense is a strong defense. It’s not surprising that with the increase of news surrounding the opioid epidemic, media coverage has increased about Naloxone - also known as Narcan, a nasal spray that knocks the opioids off receptors long enough to reverse an overdose. Not coincidentally, on the day of the panel discussion, the FDA approved the first over-the-Counter Naloxone Nasal Spray. The Bronxville School administration team has been well-prepared in the event of such an emergency. Narcan supplies are located in offices throughout the building, including the health, district, and main offices. Staff has been trained on administering Narcan, and there will be a parent and senior student training in the high school on April 25th. Chief Satriale added that every police officer in Bronxville carries Narcan, and that five lives have been saved. “There is no harm in administering Narcan if you suspect an opioid overdose, at any age, even if it doesn't end up being the case,” said Dr. Mudan.
Social media safety was another topic covered during the morning panel discussion. “We are seeing an increase in issues that arise through social media use,” said Chief Satriale. The take away for parents was clear- whether it’s about drug and alcohol use or social media activity, it’s important to start having the conversation with children as they enter middle school years. The Bronxville Police Department has discussions with middle school students during the year, and there are plans for the department to talk about social media with rising sixth graders.
“Our priority is to support the school community,” said Deirdre Doheny. “Hearing the concerns from parents and understanding the magnitude of the issues locally and in other parts of the country, we are grateful to be surrounded by exceptional local resources and an incredible parent population to bring parents the information they need to keep their children safe.”
A copy of the presentation will be available on the Bronxville PTA website.