Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Great Narcan Debate

At the risk of receiving a horrendous amount of backlash, and with hands trembling, I would like to weigh in on this controversial topic.  

Naloxone (Narcan) blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication, including extreme drowsiness, slowed breathing, or loss of consciousness. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Narcan is used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation.

I have read so many negative things on facebook and on other sites about the use of Narcan.  Here are just a few of the statments I have heard and/or read.

They should just let those junkies die.

Why would they stop an overdose?  That's one less drug addict on the streets that we have to worry about.

People just take advantage of Narcan.  They get high knowing they have a so-called lifesaver.

Why am I paying for a drug addict to be brought back to life?

Some people have had to use Narcan like 6, 7, 8 times!  They are taking advantage of it.  

If the elderly and veterans can't receive free medications, why should a bunch of junkies?
(I do believe that the elderly and veterans should be taken care of.  I have two amazing grandmothers who could use the help and a disabled veteran brother who could as well. That's not the point here.)

We live in a country where EVERYTHING is controversial and debatable.  I get it...we like to argue.  And....we like to be right.  

But, my question is this.  

Since when did we become a society that wishes death upon people?  

I'm sorry, but I do believe we have reached a new low. 

I agree that some addicts will take advantage of Narcan.  We humans have that tendency to take advantage of things.  I can quickly rattle off a list of things (and people) that I've taken advantage of. Some people take advantage of government assistance, but some people don't.  We shouldn't completely take assistance away just because of the ones who abuse it.  It only hurts the ones who truly need it.  

I met a lady recently and I began listening to her story.  She was neck-deep in her addiction and overdosed...twice.  She received Narcan....twice.  She is now carrying the message of recovery to everyone she meets.  She had a complete turnaround.  Not only did Narcan bring her back to life, it brought her back to LIFE!  She is just one of the lives saved by Narcan.  I wish that I could show you a picture of her because sometimes we are so quick to judge someone we don't know...can't see.  If you saw her smile, you would never wish death upon her.  If you heard her laugh, you would be grateful that she was given a second chance...followed by a third chance.  

The most "popular" argument I have heard is that someone's life should not be saved if he/she engaged in risky behaviors (like shooting heroin) that could lead to death.  Humor me for just a minute.  Let's say you like to drive fast.  Like, sometimes really fast.  You look at the speed limit signs, but you don't really obey them.  Yet, you always have a good reason for speeding.  Maybe you are late for an appointment or you are getting ready to have a "digestive emergency" (cops say they hear this all the time).  As you are speeding (and essentially breaking the law), you lose control of your vehicle and it flips....with your two-year old in the back seat.  Someone witnesses this and calls 911.  Police cars, ambulances, and firetrucks quickly arrive, and, upon inspection, it is determined that the jaws of life are required.  The firefighters extract the small child from the vehicle, but you are fading quickly.  At this point, all of the officials gather together to debate what to do. Should they save your life?  The thing is, when they ran your license, they learned that you've had not one, not two, not even three, but four speeding tickets in a two-year span.  Even worse, it looks like you rear-ended someone not even three months ago.  Hmmmm....what should they do.  Let you die?  NO!!!  They don't let you die.  That would be asinine.  Without any thought, they've got the jaws of life cutting you free.  You get a second chance.  And, even if you don't learn your lesson and you continue racing around in your mom-van, it was still the right choice to save your life.  You see, what you do with the gift you have received is up to you.  

How many times should an addict's life be saved with Narcan?  My answer to that is as many times as it takes. Until they "get it."  But, what if they never "get it"?  Well, that's unfortunate.  Still, we have not made a mistake by extending the opportunity to live. Someone in my family is in a mess right now. He has battled drug addiction the majority of his life. Just a month or so ago, he overdosed and received Narcan....just in time. Sometimes I lose hope that he will ever break free. Sometimes I get angry when I see the pain it causes everyone...including him. Sometimes it breaks my heart to know his mom's biggest fear is getting a phone call that he has died. The only thing that kept her from getting that phone call recently was something called Narcan.  He's been given a second chance at life, and it is up to him as to what he does with it. I pray it's that he finds recovery before it is eternally too late.

Here's the deal. That girl you saw lying on the side of the road, lifeless, getting revived by EMTs, she's still a person. She has a heart. And a soul. She has parents. And grandparents. And possibly children. She had dreams of being someone. Now, all of her hopes and dreams are scattered on a dirty, cracked sidewalk as men and women she does not know do everything they can to save her life. In that moment, nothing else matters. It doesn't matter that she just prostituted herself for dope money. It doesn't matter that everyone who loves her has turned their backs on her. What matters is that she is dying....and there is something that can save her life.

I'm not sure why there is so much controversy about a life-saving medication. If something has been discovered/manufactured/invented that can take a person that is essentially dead and bring them back to life, why in the world would we be mad that it is being used? The only travesty regarding the use of Narcan is that it wasn't available sooner....that there are grieving mothers whose children it could have saved.

I do hope that parameters regarding Narcan are set....and that they are set soon. I believe that any person who is revived by Narcan should be court-ordered to some type of treatment, whether it be inpatient or outpatient, and enrolled in drug court. I would love to see the addict get real and lasting recovery.....once his/her life is saved. 

We can all agree that this drug epidemic is out of hand. It's absolutely devastating our communities and tearing families apart. What is the solution? Well, I know the ultimate solution is surrendering to God. But, logistically, what is the immediate answer? Where can they go for treatment? How will they get through the withdrawals? How do we show them that there is hope? How do we make them want to get clean? How can we get them to hear truth when they have sold themselves out to a lie? I have no freaking clue. 

But, I do know one thing for sure. It's not by letting them die. 


  1. Great post...very thought provoking. I carry Narcan wherever I go just in case I come upon someone in the community who has overdosed. My daughter, Megan Kelley, Forever 22, died on April 14, 2015 from a heroin overdose. Her friends failed to save her life. Her supplier was on extended supervision and didn't want to get revoked and sent back to prison and her girlfriend she was talking to when her call dropped knew that Megan could be sent to prison for relapsing and overdosing so she chose not to call 911 to save Megan's life.

    When you indicated in your post that if people overdose they should be court-ordered into treatment. Megan wanted treatment and my insurance would have paid for treatment, but the judge who sentenced her said she had to wait 9 months for treatment for a powerful drug that kills. He told Megan that she could be on Huber/GPS monitoring--$21 a day means more than a life to the court system. Also Megan was advised to plead no contest by her attorney to a 2nd Degree Recklessly Endangering a Life Charge even though she didn't commit that crime. The attorney never told us that a 1st Degree or 2nd Degree Recklessly Endangering a Life Charge makes you PERMANENTLY ineligible for drug court and treatment in prison if you are sent to prison because those crimes are considered violent crimes under Federal Law. So in essence not everyone is even going to be eligible even if they need and want drug court. Either we have to change the laws or do something differently in order to end this national opioid epidemic.

  2. I've experienced that same vicious attitude toward those who are addicted. Some brutal comments may come from people with dark hearts and other people may be utterly uninformed on how easy it is these days to become addicted. It's vital to keep educating people on the reality. Here's a recent blog from one of our websites on just this topic – our effort to try to improve this situation.

  3. I agree with you fully on everything you said! You have such an amazing way of wording things! I love reading your blog. Your writing hits so close to home with me. Thank you for this.

  4. Anyone who thinks we should just let people die because they have overdosed, anyone who thinks it's ok to shame people with addiction -- they are part of the problem.