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Rutgers fraternity Pi Kappa Phi creates drug overdose prevention program

The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity will be the first greek life organization to undergo training for the Narcan program. – Photo by Courtesy of Gareth Patterson

The Rutgers chapter of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity has worked to implement a Narcan drug overdose prevention program to be available in greek life housing across the University.

Shaun Hsueh, program coordinator at the fraternity and a Rutgers Business School junior, said the Narcan program was created as a preventative measure for drug overdoses. The program’s title is named after Narcan, which is the brand name of a narcotic that is used to treat drug overdoses in emergencies. 

“This is a program that we’ve seen work across the U.S. … It’s effective, and it has been able to save lives,” he said. “Being able to implement this program onto campus is something that we're honored to be able to bring in, and we think it's a great opportunity to be able to have.”

Hsueh said that each fraternity house on campus will receive program training. The training will be held once per semester for each greek organization, and two chapter officers and four members of the chapter will be present, he said.

Gareth Patterson, president of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said the funding for the program will come from various University organizations that have provided grants to go toward the program’s implementation.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJUH) is one of the organizations that will aid the program, as its staff will provide training and Narcan kits for all Rutgers students, Patterson said. The Rutgers Training Intervention Procedures (TIPS) program will also provide training for alcohol monitoring to members of the University’s fraternities.

He also said that the training is simple and Narcan kits are easy to administer. The training sessions will last approximately an hour long and will teach students how to properly use the Narcan kits.

“But it's not like something that's super complicated to understand how to use," Patterson said. "It also does have the instructions on the kit. Say someone doesn't have the training, you're still able to administer it. We just prefer that people have this extra precaution.”

Hsueh said that the Narcan kits will be administered by members of the organization if someone is displaying symptoms of a drug overdose or if the trained member can tell by other signs that someone is experiencing an overdose.

The Pi Kappa Phi fraternity will be the first greek organization to undergo training and have kits in their house on campus before the program is established in other greek charters, and this will be done in two to three weeks, Patterson said.

He said he initially brought the idea for the program to his advisor when he was elected president of the fraternity and received support. They worked with University organizations, such as the Alcohol and Other Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), to continue planning the program.

Approval from the University’s Office of Sorority and Fraternity Affairs was also required for the program to officially be established, Patterson said.

Hsueh said he hopes for the program to eventually be implemented in campus residence halls in addition to greek life housing in one to two semesters from now.

“Logistically, that's going to be a little bit more complicated,” he said. “We're going to have to be working with (resident assistants) for training, and we also have to be getting additional funding from the school.”

Patterson also said he hopes to spread awareness of the program by asking resident assistants to start mentioning the program to students living in residence halls during mandatory meetings as he found in research that a large amount of drug-related crimes have occurred in University residence halls.

Hsueh said the hope for the program is that it will reach all areas of the University’s campus in the future and that other drug abuse measures will be implemented across campus as well.

Patterson said he believes that as the program is established in greek life, members of the Rutgers community will see its impact and realize its benefits.

“People will slowly get the understanding that this is a program that's happening ... that this has some real significance and relevancy,” Patterson said. “So I think ... the word will get around by just seeing the impact (of) what we have done so far.”

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