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New Jersey Lawmakers Propose Opioid Education For Students In Grades 7-12

NEW JERSEY (CBSNewYork) -- In face of the opioid epidemic, New Jersey lawmakers have come up with a Narcan lesson for children, which they say could save lives.

There's a proposal in the Assembly to educate students in seventh through 12th grades about opioids.

"I think at a certain age that we could possibly do that. I wouldn't do something with children that are too young, but certainly children in high school that might be exposed to that," one woman told CBS2's Meg Baker.

"They absorb more the younger they are," said another.

"The younger the little children learn about this disease - this epidemic that is not going away - the better off it is," a man added.

The bill goes one step further -- if passed, students would be taught how to administer an opioid antidote, like naloxone, to an overdose victim in an emergency.

Dr. Diane Calello, with Rutgers Medical School, compares the controversial teaching to sex education.

"It would have to be done very carefully... I think the downside is it might convey that safety net message, on the other hand, naloxone can save somebody's life," she said.

She said incorporating this into health education is the right thing to do.

"We always talk about talking to kids about drugs before somebody else does, meaning a negative peer influence or media or social media influence," said Calello.

Other people Baker spoke with agreed the education is good for students.

"You have to be a little progressive in this situation and it pays dividends down the future," one man said.

"It could save a life... You could have some kids that do dabble and don't realize what they are getting into," said a woman. "It's a shame what's happening with these kids are dying."

Calello said opioid education is just one of the ways to combat the epidemic. Other major efforts include enforcement, looking at the way doctors prescribe the drugs, and laws and regulations.

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