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Harm reduction comprises policies, programs, and practices that decrease risk of overdose for people who use drugs. Some examples of harm reduction for drugs include making Narcan accessible, educational programming, providing fentanyl test strips, and policies like Smith’s amnesty policy. It can also extend to interventions that decrease risk in other potentially harmful situations. Wearing a seatbelt, using barrier contraception, and using bug spray are all examples of harm reduction.

It is impossible to eliminate all high-risk behaviors. Harm Reduction aims at attenuating risk.

How to Respond to an Overdose


Check for signs of an overdose

Slowed or stopped breathing, gurgling, or snoring sounds while breathing. Blue-gray lips and fingertips. Not reacting when you rub your knuckles on their chest.


Call 911

Say “someone isn’t breathing” or “I think it’s an overdose.”


Give Naloxone

Place tip into one nostril of person’s nose. Push pump to release the entire dose. If no response, keep giving doses every three minutes, changing nostrils each time.


Give rescue breaths/CPR

Make sure mouth is clear. Tilt head back, lift chin, pinch nose. Give one breath every five seconds. Make sure chest rises and falls with each breath.


Stay until help arrives

Narcan on Campus

In the event of an opioid overdose, rapid access to Narcan can be lifesaving. Given the benefits of Narcan, Smith has installed six NaloxBoxes around campus; these boxes are similar to AEDs, but they contain Narcan. The Narcan in these boxes is for emergency use only. Students who would like to carry Narcan, just in case, are welcome to obtain it from Schacht.

NaloxBoxes are located in six key places: 

  • Campus Center
  • Outside the Friedmans in a temperature-controlled box
  • Alumni Gym
  • King/Scales Dining Hall
  • Cutter Ziskind Dining Hall
  • Tyler Dining Hall
A map of the campus, showing where Narcan is found. Locations include Outside of the Friedman apartments, King/Scales dining hall, Cutter/Ziskind dining hall, the Campus Center, Tyler Dining hall, and the Alumnae Gym

These locations were chosen because of their proximity to student residences. Additionally, students are able to access the dining hall NaloxBoxes 24/7. 

Using Narcan & Overdose Symptoms

Narcan is easy to administer. Watch this simple training, and instructions for use are on all NaloxBoxes. 

Narcan has limited side effects if it is accidentally administered to someone who is not overdosing. However, ideally it should only be used when truly needed. Some of the signs and symptoms of an overdose include: 

  • Lack of consciousness
  • Awake but with slurred speech or unable to talk
  • Slow, shallow, erratic, or no breathing
  • Skin is blue/purple/gray
  • Fingernails or lips look bluish or gray
  • Pulse is slow, erratic, or has stopped
  • Choking sounds or gurgling noises
  • Sweating and chills
  • Body is very limp
  • Seizures or convulsions

Proactive Harm Reduction

The Harm Reduction bag program was implemented in the fall of 2023. It is overseen by staff in the wellness department along with the Community Health Organizers. Students can request harm reduction bags specific to nicotine, opioids, safer sex, and self-harm. Requests can be placed during the school year. 

Narcan trainings are offered at least once a semester through the wellness department. These trainings are open to all Smith community members. Keep an eye out for trainings advertised on our Instagram feed and in the eDigest. If you would like to request a training for your department, house, org, team, etc. please contact wellness:

For additional harm reduction resources, check out the following Smith Wellness Resources Guides

  • Alcohol Harm Reduction
  • Cannabis Harm Reduction 
  • Opioids 
  • Safer Sex
  • Stimulants

Tips for Decreasing Your Risk

If you are going to use, these tips can help protect your wellbeing. 

  • Never use alone: using drugs alone greatly increases the risk of dying from overdose (source). If you are going to use, be around other consenting people or take advantage of the Never Use Alone hotline: 800.972.0590
  • Know what is in your drugs: many drugs, including street opiates or Adderall are laced with fentanyl, which is linked to overdose. Testing drugs before you use them decreases your risk. Fentanyl test strips are available through Schacht. 
  • Carry Narcan
  • Reach out if you are concerned about your drug use. The Schacht Center for Health and Wellness offers medical appointments and counseling appointments. If your drug-related behaviors are starting to concern you, reach out for an appointment: 413-585-2800
  • Dispose of old prescription drugs. Find a medical waste kiosk.

Frequently Asked Questions

Narcan cannot cause any harm to someone if they are not overdosing. Narcan has very few side effects, but if it is administered to someone who is dependent on opioids, it can cause their body to go into opioid withdrawal. Withdrawal from opiates can cause serious physical and mental symptoms that are usually temporary and can cause the person to be agitated when they wake up, which is another reason to call 911 if you think someone might be overdosing. 

It can cause side effects like:

  • Body aches 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Fever 
  • Runny nose 
  • Sneezing 
  • Goose bumps 
  • Sweating
  • Yawning 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Nervousness Restlessness or irritability 
  • Shivering or trembling 
  • Stomach cramping 
  • Weakness 
  • Increased blood pressure

No, Narcan administration is protected by the Good Samaritan law. The law provides legal protection from arrest, charge and prosecution for obtaining, possessing, using, being under the influence, or administering Naloxone/Narcan for an opioid overdose.

Narcan can be safely used on pregnant people. The lowest possible effective dose should be used to avoid opioid withdrawal symptoms. The risk of an overdose is worse for both the pregnant person and fetus than the risk of receiving Narcan.

Yes, it is safe to administer Narcan to a child. If a parent is around, you should ask for consent. If not, you should be covered by good samaritan laws.

The altitude does not change the effectiveness of the aspiration of Narcan, so it is safe to bring Narcan on your carry-on and then use it. 

TSA allows medications. For international travel, check the restrictions of the countries you are flying to and through.