Overdose reversal drug available in Alabama schools

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CBS) A group of staff members in Montgomery, Alabama, act out a scenario of an opioid overdose. It's a training drill. The goal is to learn how to administer an overdose reversal drug called naloxone.

The auto-injector looks more like a cigarette box than a drug that can save a life.

Terry Roller/Training participant: I spent 10 years in a public school as a principal and it's very common to be walking down the hall and come into a situation like this.
Reporter: You're learning how to possibly save a life here?
Terry Roller: Yes.

The woman giving out instructions is Alabama State Nurse Administrator Jennifer Ventress.

"We developed this training to teach people in the absence of a nurse how to give this drug," Ventress said.

Preparation is also underway about three hours north near Huntsville, where training started at Sparkman High just last month. We were there when 11th-graders Bella Powell and Jackson Mays first learned how the device works.

"It's very similar to an EpiPen, so it's relatively easy to use which is good," Powell said.

More than 400 opioid-related overdose deaths were reported in the state of Alabama in 2017.

According to the CDC, the state ranked highest in the nation in opioid prescriptions back in 2015. The state is said to have more prescriptions than the number of people.

The drug costs $178 per dose, all paid for by a grant. That means no cost to taxpayers.

"We're one of the top states that have opioid abuse," said Eric Mackey, Alabama's state superintendent. "People could say, 'Well, you ought to be investing your money just on textbooks and teachers and academic things.' But there would be no good academic outcomes if there's not healthy students in school."

Alabama school officials say naloxone can be used on anyone who comes to campus for a number of events including basketball games and recitals.