Narcan, also known as Naloxone, or the heroin overdose antidote, is coming to Florida’s drug stores. I’m over-the-moon excited for this.
Of course, for me it’s not a surprise, I’ve known this since March 28th of this year when the law was passed.
It was a grateful day for me.
Naloxone is a drug that is basically used like a person would use an EpiPen during a life threatening allergic reaction. It is used to save a life….a life that has just overdosed on opiates, and is near death.
Opiate Overdose Quick Mini-Education
So, here’s how opiate overdose works. In simplest terms, you have this primal part of your brain; it’s the part that keeps you breathing even when you’re not thinking about it. Even when you’re asleep. Even when you’re passed out drunk. Even when you’ve been knocked unconscious due to a car accident or a fall. This primal part of your brain’s job is to keep you alive, because, well…being alive is part of the plan, right?
Now let’s talk about opiates or opioids.
One of these terms (opiates/opioids) is primarily used for illegal, non prescription drugs in the opium category, while the other term is used for synthetic narcotics. This class of narcotics includes, but is not limited to: heroin, morphine, and methadone. It also includes OxyContin, Percoset, Vicodin, Dilaudid, and Fentanyl.
People who take these drugs either take them legally or illegally. Either path can lead to addiction.
Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the US, with 47,055 lethal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers, and 10,574 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2014. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, four in five new heroin users started out misusing prescription painkillers. Many of these prescription painkillers were legally obtained.
When a person overdoses, the primal part of their brain goes to sleep. They basically forget to breathe. The opiates flooding the receptors in their brain have taken over. Naloxone or Narcan, when administered (by a friend or relative or complete stranger who is very cool), rushes in and knocks all the opiates out of the brain’s receptors. Kind of like a superhero. This allows them to remember to breathe again.
Now let’s get to why we’re here, reading this article.
Narcan / Naloxone just became legal and will now be able to be obtained and used by the family and friends of people who are determined to be at risk for accidental overdose death by opiates. If you are equipped with Narcan, you will be empowered to save a life.
Who Are These People Dying of Opiate Overdose?
The individuals who die from accidental overdose are valuable people. They are children of God. They are loved. Their lives matter. They are brothers, sisters, people who have dressed up like Santa Claus, people who have smiled at you, people who have served our country, people who have pets, people who have children, jobs, friends. People who deserve a chance…or even a hundred chances…to get clean and live a beautiful life. Some are senior citizens taking Oxycontin as prescribed, and completely addicted. They are one or two pills away from overdose. Some are taking their drug intravenously…and illegally. But both lives matter. Equally.
I mean, carrying Naloxone is a choice. If you don’t want to carry it, that’s cool. If you see a person slumped over in a bathroom stall and you don’t want to help them, that’s your decision. Saving lives isn’t for everyone. It takes time out of our busy day, after all. I mean…geez.
But if you don’t want to save lives by using Narcan, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing. Some people have been waiting for this overdose antidote for a long time.
(Keep scrolling after this image. The article keeps going.)
Note: Original author of this FB post changed the wording from “drug heads” to “addicts.” Progress.
I Was A Drug Addict
I am a person who used to be a slave to drugs and alcohol. I don’t know how it got as bad as it did, but I know it started with legal prescriptions…and then my dad died. And then I had a crappy marriage. And then Vicodin became a way to help pick me up and face the circumstances I was living in. Did it work? No. The addiction just got worse until I didn’t even know who I was anymore, but today is different.
Today, I spent about two hours applying for a grant so that residents of Lee County, Florida will be trained and equipped with Narcan, for free. Right now, while I’m writing this article, I’m looking down at my grandson who is playing at my feet, and I’m grateful for life’s second, third, and fifth chances. I will be coming up on two years clean and recovered this August.
I live in Fort Myers, Florida now, but I used to live in Port St. Lucie, Florida. I attended an amazing church in a nearby city. The church is called Revive. There is a Pastor there. His name is Nick. He taught me a lot of things about God. He helped me recognize who I am in Christ. He encouraged me and helped me become who I am today. I think he said that he overdosed on opiates 9 times in his life. Maybe it was 13. I don’t remember, but it was a lot of times. He was revived by people who used Narcan to save him. I believe God equipped these people to give Nick a second, third, and tenth chance at life. Today he is a Pastor and a husband. Last I heard he is expecting a baby. I know he is grateful for Narcan. I am grateful for him.
I’m sorry for the people who see the sick and suffering of this world as crazy drug addicts that are purposely using up all their chances and just laughing at the possibility of death. It’s so sad that people don’t understand that we all matter. They matter. I matter. You matter.
I Want to Save Lives
I carry Narcan in my purse every day of my life. It will be an honor if I can ever use it.
I hope it’s to someone who the world considers a hopeless drug addict. I hope I find them on the floor of a public bathroom, or an airport, or an alley. I will hit them with Narcan, and then I will tell them that they matter. Even if they’re mad at me. Even if they curse at me. Even if they are so confused and tormented at the moment that they punch me. I mean, I don’t want to get hit or anything, but you get the point.
When I was at the lowest point in my life, one of my best friends came to my house. She put me in the shower. She washed my hair.
She held me in her arms and told me it was going to be okay.
Today it is okay.
Because of people who care.
Do I believe in Narcan? Yes, oh yes.
Do I love the addict and believe they need a hundred chances at life, even if they spend them foolishly. Oh yes. Yes. Yes.
Do I love this lady who doesn’t understand and believes helping people right where they are is not what we’re called to do?
Oh yes, I love her too.
And I have to ask myself this question as I’m finishing up this article.
Do you think Jesus ever healed a withered hand that was later used to hit someone who didn’t deserve it?
Do you think Jesus ever opened a blind eye that later went on to look at pornography?
Do you think Jesus looks at our broken humanity and says, “Ugh. You’re such a mess. So underserving.”
No, He says, “Hey. Go help people. Be my hands. By my feet. Feed my sheep. Clothed the naked. Help the sick. Freely you have received. Freely give.”
I pray God will break our hearts for what breaks His.
A love note to those suffering today.
—Stay brave. You are the pearl of great price.—