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Horne announces new task force on fentanyl prevention in Arizona schools

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Horne announced a new task force Tuesday that is designed to warn teens of the dangers of fentanyl.

Dr. Holly Geyer is an addiction medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic and is part of the new School Overdose Preparedness and Intelligence Taskforce. She says the group is focusing its messaging for students on drug toxicity.

"They're going to social influencers. And so that might be part of this campaign: Identifying groups or individuals that are in their world that can relay this message, and probably much more impactful than we can," Geyer said.

The state program announced Tuesday also has a separate component designed to deal with situations where students do use fentanyl, either purposely or because they think it actually was some other drug. That is to have Narcan, the brand name of naloxone that reverses opioid overdoses, available in every school.

That's already allowed. And many school districts around the state already have the drug in stock. But Horne said the program is designed to encourage more schools to participate by looking for ways to let them purchase the drug at a discount. But the Department of Education won't pick up the tab.

He said that is cheap enough so that districts can afford it out of their regular operating budgets. Horne said, though, state lawmakers are free to make an allocation.

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Greg Hahne started as a news intern at KJZZ in 2020 and returned as a field correspondent in 2021. He learned his love for radio by joining Arizona State University's Blaze Radio, where he worked on the production team.