By Jennifer Bisram | Updated October 23, 2023 via CBS New York 


NEW YORK -- The opioid crisis is a new challenge for schools this fall.

As fentanyl fears remain high among teens, New York City Public Schools officials say Narcan, the medicine used to reverse opioid overdoses, is now stocked in its high schools.

CBS New York has been following the opioid crisis and the push to get Narcan in schools.

Lyneice Desheilds attends a public high school in Queens.

"It's scary," Desheilds said.

The fear of fentanyl poisoning is a subject she hoped she didn't have to study.

"It's very alarming to hear that fentanyl is being put in ... is being laced in stuff," Desheilds said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fentanyl-related adolescent overdose deaths nearly tripled from 2019-21.

In New York City, health data shows fentanyl was involved in 81% of all overdoses last year.

"Right now, we are still in life-preservation mode. We're hoping to get more dimensions around education and prevention from kindergarten up through high school," said Steve Chassman, the executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in Suffolk County.

"At the height of a national drug crisis that's disproportionately affecting young adults and adolescents, it's important to have naloxone in schools," Chassman added.

Doctors say naloxone or Narcan instantly reverses overdoses. The Food and Drug Administration approved the nasal spray for use without a prescription.

"Every family member leaves here with a Narcan kit. We work with 109 different schools on Long Island. We make sure the nurses and teachers carry naloxone in case there is ever an incident," Chassman said.

CBS New York revealed back in February most high schools across the state, including on Long Island, were stocked with the lifesaving spray, except New York City Public Schools.

In June, CBS New York was told by a spokesperson that city schools would have the medicine by fall and staff would be trained.

"We would rather schools have it and not need it, then need it and not have it," Chassman said.

This academic year, as education leaders grapple with how to approach the grim drug crisis, CBS New York has learned Narcan is finally in city public high schools.

School officials said, "Every school nurse serving New York City Public Schools high school students has been trained and has stocked Narcan available to them."

Still, it's unclear if it's in all 571 high schools. Some principals told CBS New York they don't have their supply yet.

"This is all preventable," Long Island father Larry Lamendola said.

Lamendola, who lost his daughter, Lisa, to a fentanyl overdose, said Narcan, alone, isn't enough. He's now advocating and educating families and schools about the high cost of drug use.

"There's a hole in my heart that will ... it never go away," Lamendola said. "Selfishly, there is no more birthdays. There is no more Father's Day. That hurts. It hurts."

Advocates say because fentanyl is being laced in pretty much every street and prescription drug, they are now handing out fentanyl strips, which help to identify if a pill has fentanyl.

As schools continue to revamp drug awareness and prevention programs, many say it's a community effort to keep our children safe and away from drugs.

"My biggest fear is dying from drugs," Desheilds said.