Narcan boxes installed at UW-La Crosse residence halls

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — In the case of an overdose, getting Narcan on UW-La Crosse’s campus is as simple as going inside a building and opening a box.

In college, students are given a toolbox with everything they need for the world outside its campus. Now, colleges are providing students with a different kind of toolbox.

In a partnership with Wisconsin Voices of Recovery, University of Wisconsin La Crosse has installed 13 boxes around campus with Narcan.

“Once I found out about the boxes, I had a conversation with our residence life director and the university’s administration and we collectively decided it was the right thing to do,” UWL’s Chief of Police Allen Hill said.

The installed boxes contain two Narcan nasal sprays, masks for rescue breathing and instructions on administering the medication. The university installed Nalox-Zone boxes near the AEDs in each of its 10 residence halls, as well as at the south entrance of the recreation hall and in the lobby of the university police office.

“If someone has a friend that’s addicted to drugs and they’re afraid that they may overdose, they can take a proactive measure, come in, and take a box of Narcan and have it with them,” Hill said.

The Narcan in the recreation center and police office can be used by anyone.

“Our lobby here is open 24/7, the recreation center, if it’s open during business hours, their box is accessible,” Hill said.

When someone takes a box of Narcan, Wisconsin Voices of Recovery gets an alert.

“In those cases, they will contact us and find out if anything has been taken out, and if so, we’ll work with to get those items replaced,” Hill said.

Hill says as deadly opioids become common, the university wants students to have the resources to stop an overdose. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2020 more than 91,000 people died from drug overdoses. 1,200 were Wisconsinites. Campus police say there’s not a prevalence of fentanyl or drugs laced with the powerful opioid, but a national rise in accidental deaths and overdoses prompted them to take extra precautions.

Currently, UWLPD officers carry Narcan,” Hill said, “but adding these boxes on campus provides another layer of lifesaving measures we have available. Being proactive rather than reactive is the right decision to make and to have that Narcan put on campus.”

Students say it’s important to have Narcan on a college campus.

“Being on a college campus, you know that there’s going to be drugs, and opioids, and everything out there so just having this available on our campus just can help,” junior Meaghan Tiedt said.

Freshman Phoenix Wilkinson believes other universities should do the same.

“I think it’s definitely a lot more accessible than it ever used to be. I mean, I haven’t been anywhere where they just have Narcan boxes available and I think it’s really cool,” Wilkinson said.

Hill says by providing students with Narcan, he believes they are more likely to seek help.

“Education is one of the most important factors, safety wise,” Hill said.

Hill says these boxes will not be monitored so anyone can take Narcan without any fear.