SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Sumner County sheriff wants to stop any more children from dying of an opioid overdose by bringing more of the antidote naloxone to schools.

According to Tennessee data, opioid overdose was responsible for the deaths of 243 people ages 15-24 in 2021. Sumner County Sheriff Sonny Weatherford says this school year a middle school student died from an overdose in White House, Tennessee.

At an early January meeting, Weatherford said he wants to be proactive and give schools and students more resources to prevent this from happening again.

“I wish I could say we don’t have drugs in schools,” the sheriff said. “I wish I could say fentanyl is not in Sumner County, but we prosecute people all throughout the year [who] have sold drugs.”

Weatherford wants naloxone, also known as Narcan, to be available in schools beyond just in the possession of SROs and nurses.

“Every SRO has it, but what if he is out?” Weatherford asked. “We can be a leader in saying we want to go forward, we want to be proactive.”

Centerstone regional CEO Ben Middleton oversees school psychologists and says many kids know how to get their hands on prescription drugs and opiates.

“I suspect that will get worse before it gets better,” Middleton said of drug use among teens. “It’s very easy to get access to drugs and because of the access, I just think it’s a reality that you are going to see more utilization.”

Former teen addict and Tennessee Harm Reduction founder Daniel Garrett says naloxone is a crucial resource and it is a great idea for it to be more accessible in schools, but he wants to see more initiatives like this proposed in the future.

“It is just one part of a drug safety tool kit. Another tool we may use is fentanyl test strips. I don’t want people to stop at Narcan,” Garrett said.

Right now, the sheriff says he is concentrating on getting naloxone in high schools, but the committee he spoke with wants to get it in all K-12 schools in Sumner County.

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The sheriff said he has talked to state representatives and believes the next step is to speak with the school board and look at already available state and regional grants to find the necessary funds to make this idea come to life.