ST. CLOUD -- For the first time since World War One, life expectancy in the United States is on the decline and the CDC says the opioid epidemic is playing a large role.

Thursday, you'll have a chance to learn how to use naloxone, commonly known as NARCAN, a product designed to reverse the effects of an overdose. St. Cloud State University is playing host to an open to the public NARCAN training event.

Thaddeus Rybka is the Recovery Community Program Coordinator at SCSU. He says they haven't experienced any overdoses in the student body, however, they want to be prepared for anything.

"At some point this semester we'll have NARCAN installed in various AED units on campus. Specifically, in high-traffic areas, there will be signs with directions and of what to look for if someone's unconscious."

Rybka says the opioid crisis isn't getting any better on its own.

"A lot of people know there's a crisis going on. According to the CDC, the average is 130 people a day. Overdose deaths are now the number one cause of accidental death now in America, recently surpassing car crashes."

Here in Minnesota, the problem isn't as bad as in other states, however, our department of health says 637 people died in 2017 compared to 583 in 2015 due to an overdose and that number is following the national trend of increasing.

The NARCAN training is open to the public and from 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. in Atwood on Thursday.

Other events during the awareness week include a screening of The Anonymous People with a panel discussion on Wednesday, speaker Colin Cash of the Mille Lacs Band of Objibwe on Thursday and recovery ally training on Friday.

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