Nolan Loveday, 10, examines a Narcan dose during a
training course. (New York Times photo by Mike Belleme)
In an effort to fight the opioid epidemic, a mostly rural Tennessee county is teaching children as young as six years old to administer a nasal spray that can revive an overdose victim.

Like many other places in America, the area has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic. "In Carter County, where 56,000 people live in a cluster of small cities and rural towns on the North Carolina border, nearly 60 people have died from opioid overdoses since 2014. That year, 8.1 million painkiller prescriptions were written in Tennessee, more than the state’s population of about 6.5 million," Dan Levin reports for The New York Times.

The high death told led county health officials to embrace the "practical — if radical — strategy" of teaching children how to reverse an overdose. In the past three years, the Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition "has given Narcan training to an estimated 600 young children and teenagers in after-school programs, babysitting classes and vaping cessation courses," Levin reports. "Some of the young people have in turn trained their peers and taken a leading role in distributing Narcan at community events, like a back-to-school bash last fall where one child gave out 70 doses." At least 100 children have asked the coalition for additional doses, usually because they had already administered the doses they were given. Narcan is the brans name for naloxone.

Carter County (Wikipedia map)
However, many locals in the socially conservative community have opposed the measure, including school board members and police officers. Many schools and counties have rejected drug prevention educators' requests to expand the program in other schools or counties in East Tennessee, Levin reports.

"Lots of people say children don’t need to think about these things," one such educator, Jillian Reece, told Levin. "But I’d rather a kid should go through the trauma of giving Narcan than see their parent die."