Emmons Wellness Center uses harm reduction principles in our approach to alcohol and drug education.

Opioid overdose is the leading cause of death among adults ages 18 to 45, with fentanyl playing a contributing role in most of them. Harm reduction provides a framework for keeping our Oxy community safe from opioid overdose.

What is harm reduction?

"Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.” –National Harm Reduction Coalition

Harm reduction is:

  • Accepting that drug use is a part of our world and working to combat the opioid overdose epidemic by meeting people where they are
  • Acknowledging and centering the human dignity of people who use drugs, and working to mitigate the negative consequences of drug use
  • Community centered advocacy that recognizes the roles that structural inequality and capitalist exploitation play in facilitating the opioid epidemic
  • Affirming of the agency of drug users, whose voices should be centered in solutions to keep communities safer
  • Something we’re doing to keep everyone safe!

Read more the guiding principles of harm reduction here.

Harm reduction is NOT:

  • A campaign to encourage drug use
  • Meant to minimize the harmful effects of drug use

  • Fentanyl is an extremely potent synthetic opioid, approved by the FDA for pain relief
  • It is ~100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times more potent than heroin
  • Fentanyl is increasingly in circulation due to illicit manufacturing, and is often laced in other drugs, including “study” drugs and “party” drugs
  • Someone can overdose on fentanyl the first time they ever try drugs—without testing a drug for fentanyl, there is no way to know if it is laced
  • 2 mg of fentanyl is a lethal dose (size of a sesame seed)
  • In one DEA study, 60% of seized pills tested had a lethal dose of fentanyl
  • Testing drugs for fentanyl and carrying naloxone can save lives

  • Narcan is one brand name of naloxone, an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose
  • Naloxone has no effect on someone who does not have opioids in their system
  • It is easily administered as a nasal spray
  • You can now buy naloxone over the counter at pharmacies all over the United States
  • There is no risk of overdosing on naloxone
  • Carrying naloxone can save a life!

  • Fentanyl test strips are a way to prevent an overdose by making sure there is no fentanyl in your substance before you take it.
  • The steps are:
  1. Fill a small container with at least 15 ml of water (you can use a bottle cap, small cup, or a the opened test strip package)
  2. Fully dissolve a small amount of powder (ie, the residue on the bag, or a scraped/crushed pill) in the water. Each pill or bag must be tested individually
  3. Hold the blue end of the strip and dip it in the water for about 10 seconds (until the water absorbs up to the white part of the strip)
  4. Take the strip out of the water and and wait 60 seconds
  5. One line = fentanyl is present; two lines = no fentanyl is present


  • The "chocolate chip cookie effect" refers to the fact that fentanyl can be present in just one part of the drug, like a chocolate chip in a cookie. The safest way to test your drugs is to crush and dissolve the entire substance.
  • Click here for a .pdf with step by step instructions for testing your drugs using fentanyl test strips, including images.
  • Click here to watch a training video.

  • You can get doses of naloxone by attending a Health Promotion overdose prevention training! We hold several open trainings for staff, faculty, and students throughout the year. Check our Health Promotion Calendar.
  • End Overdose at Oxy, a student-run club, also provides peer-to-peer trainings at campus events and off-campus housing. Their Instagram handle is @endoverdose.oxy.
  • You can also request a training for your classroom, staff, team, club or student org using our Outreach Request Form.
  • Stop by our Pro staff or Peer Drop In hours to get a mini training and pick up a dose of naloxone.
  • If you need naloxone right away, you can find naloxone over the counter at many drug stores for around $44.

  • You can get fentanyl test strips during our Pro staff and Peer Drop In hours.
  • You can also find them any time Emmons is tabling on the quad or at events!
  • Coming soon: find them in envelopes posted by each RA in every residence hall!

  1. Pinpoint pupils: the person's pupils are excessively constricted, and do not respond to light.
  2. Breathing: breathing is slowed or stopped. Adults normally breathe 12-20 times per minute. 
  3. Unconscious: the person will not respond to any physical stimulus (here's a quick video on using painful stimuli to check for consciousness). They can't speak or keep their eyes open.

If you suspect overdose, call 911 and/or campus safety at (323) 259-2599 (Campus Safety can respond within 3 minutes on campus). Minutes matter; 5 minutes without oxygen can lead to permanent brain damage and death.

If you suspect an overdose (see "What are the signs of an opioid overdose?" above), follow these steps to administer naloxone:

  1. Call 911 and/or Campus Safety at (323) 259-2599 and yell for help. It is a good idea to point to/identify one person to call 911 if you are responding with naloxone. On campus, Campus Safety can respond within 3 minutes and carry naloxone with them. They will usually respond much faster than 911, but it is important to call both.
  2. Check for responsiveness. Shout the person's name, try a form of painful stimulus (video here), and try to rouse them.
  3. Check for breathing & pulse. Adults normally breathe 12–20 times per minute. Breathing is slowed or stopped if a person is overdosing. You can watch the person's chest rise and fall to check breathing. Check pulse by putting two fingers on the person's neck.
  4. Administer naloxone. Lay the person on their back. Peel back the packaging to open the naloxone package. Insert the spray nozzle into one nostril. Then, push the plunger all the way down (press firmly; you should hear a click). If the person does not wake up within 2–3 minutes, administer another dose if you have it.
  5. Put them in recovery position. Lay the person on their left side with their head resting on a pillow or their arm. People waking from an overdose will often feel nauseous, and this will ensure they are in a safe position to vomit.
  6. Start rescue breathing. If the person is still not conscious, rescue breathing can keep the person alive until paramedics arrive. Watch this short video on how to administer rescue breaths.
  7. Ensure the person does not take more drugs and goes to the hospital. Some people feel fine when they wake from an overdose and may want to do more drugs or continue to party. They need to seek immediate medical care and should not take more drugs. Naloxone wears off in 60-90 minutes, and it is possible for the person to fall back into an overdose. 

Know your rights!

You are protected in the State of California by the Good Samaritan Law:

  • A person who acts in good faith and calls for help for a drug overdose, whether for themselves or others, may not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted for possession of a controlled substance, if evidence for the offense was found as a result of calling for help.
  • A person who acts in good faith and calls for help for a drug overdose, whether for themselves or others, may not be penalized for a violation of restraining or protective order, pretrial release, probation, or parole, if evidence for the violation was found as a result of calling for help. These protections apply for violations based on possession of a controlled substance only.

You are protected by Oxy's Medical Amnesty Policy:

  • Under this medical amnesty clause, when one or more students experience a medical emergency and/or psychological emergency/crisis while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, pharmaceuticals, or any other substance (the “student(s) in crisis”) and either the student them self or any one or more bystander(s) proactively requests medical assistance from a campus resource or local emergency services, the College will 1) mitigate the resulting disciplinary actions for the student(s) in crisis and 2) provide resources and support to the student(s) or bystander(s) calling for help.
  • Read the entire policy here.


Witnessing, experiencing and/or reversing an overdose can be very scary. Give yourself the time you need to process, care for yourself, and get support from friends or professionals.

If you need mental health support, please don't hesitate to reach out to your campus mental health resources. Emmons Counseling has urgent walk-in hours every weekday from 1 pm to 3 pm. To schedule an appointment outside of walk-in, call (323) 259-2657 or email emmons@oxy.edu. You can also use Oxy's 24/7 mental health crisis line if you need support right away or after hours by calling (323) 341-4141. Remember, therapists are confidential resources and your conversations are protected by HIPAA. Other confidential resources on campus include the Project Safe advocates and Susan Young in the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. You can also use the free-for-Oxy-students TimelyCare app for on-demand and scheduled mental health support. 

If you need support with substance use, contact Emmons Counseling to speak to a therapist about connecting to resources to help support you.

To anonymously report an overdose reversal, please use this form. This data is collected as a requirement for Occidental College's participation in the State of California's Naloxone Distribution Program. Identifying information is not collected or reported. Your feedback helps us ensure we are providing relevant training and education.

What is Oxy doing to expand access to overdose prevention tools and education?

Following in the footsteps of incredible student organizing on campus, the Health Promotion Program has been working to expand our efforts and increase access to education and life-saving naloxone and fentanyl test strips to the Oxy community.

Overdose Prevention Efforts Timeline

Summer 2022: Campus Safety and Emmons staff trained by End Overdose

September 2022: End Overdose @ Oxy (club) founded 

October 2022: First open training for students

2022–2023: End Overdose @ Oxy trains 200 students

April 2023: Health Promotion Specialist Hired

June–July 2023: Overdose Prevention Plan developed with End Overdose @ Oxy

August 2023: Voluntary RA overdose prevention training

August 2023: All incoming first-years and transfer students trained in overdose prevention at New Student Orientation

August 2023: Peer Health Educators start work, Health Promotion Porgram launched

September 2023: First open training for students held, ~20 students trained

October 2023: Health Promotion begins research for expanding access to naloxone and fentanyl test strips

Contact Us
Emmons Student Wellness Center


Appointments: (323) 259-2657
Oxy 24/7 Confidential Hotline: (323) 341-4141