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Assemblymember Arambula Introduces AB 1915 to Make Emergency Opioid Overdose Response Training Available to High School Students

For immediate release:
  • Felicia Matlosz
  • 559-304-9286

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) announced he has authored AB 1915 to help combat the dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths in California by making overdose response training available to public high school students.

Specifically, AB 1915 would direct the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to establish – by July 1, 2026 – an opioid overdose training toolkit that would be made available to high schools that voluntarily want to train students who want to learn this skill.

Overdose deaths triggered by fentanyl and other illegally made opioids have risen dramatically in California and the United States. In 2021, for example, more than 7,100 people died in California from opioid-related overdose deaths – fentanyl contributed to nearly 6,000 of these deaths, according to the CDPH.

Naloxone hydrochloride, an opioid antagonist, instantly can reverse an opioid overdose. Senate Bill 114 already has funded county offices of education to maintain on-campus emergency opioid antagonists at school districts and charter schools. However, there currently is no training program for young people.

AB 1915 would direct the CDPH to make a representative available to provide training on-site at public high schools upon request. The bill also would require that opioid antagonists made available on campuses be in locations that are widely known and easily accessible.

Assemblymember Arambula, who was an emergency room doctor for a decade, said: “Opioid overdoses have taken too many lives in our country, and we should do whatever we can to prevent these deaths. The CDC tells us that in nearly 40 percent of opioid overdose deaths, someone else was present. The emergency administration of an opioid antagonist is a recognized, quick, and easy way to avert an overdose. High school students can be trained to do this. It will save lives.”

The bill's co-sponsors are the Zachary Horton Foundation, the Fresno State College of Health and Human Services, and GENup, a student-led social justice organization.

The Zachary Horton Foundation, based in Fresno, is named after Jim Horton's late son – Zachary was only 19 when he died from an accidental opioid overdose in 2020. He had developed his addiction to opioids his last two years of high school.

Jim Horton said: "It is my dream that no other parents ever face the pain and grief his mother and I have felt."

Horton, who is president of the foundation, said that recent statistics report that 48 percent of all teenagers will try an illegal drug before leaving high school and that, for many, that first drug encounter occurs in middle school. He also said fentanyl is tainting the illegal drug supply, and that 75 percent of overdoses have a fentanyl component.

“AB 1915 is needed to give school districts the support to keep our children safe. Most schools provide drug awareness only one week a year through ‘Red Ribbon Week’ or similar events. AB 1915 would leave a lasting reminder on campuses of the necessity of ongoing awareness,” Horton said. “The training and awareness that accompanies the distribution of Naloxone helps people identify the signs of an opioid overdose and the ability to overturn that overdose.

“This information could have saved my son’s life had his friend had this knowledge. Let’s work together to keep our children safe.”

Thy Luong, Co-Chief of K-12 Policy for GENup, said: “Youth opioid overdoses have exploded these last few years, and, as youth, every single one of us feels its effects. It’s essential that, now more than ever, youth are trained on how to properly administer Narcan and other life-saving medication. We aren't taught how to deal with stigma and safety around opioid use, and AB 1915 counters that shortfall – it prioritizes youth accessibility to medication and knowledge that can save the lives of our peers, families, and communities.”