Mom Wants Overdose Reversal Drug Available To Families of Addicts
The number of people dying from heroin overdoses in Ohio has increased exponentially. Looking for ways to save lives, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow an addictâs family or friends to administer a drug that can halt an overdose. Some medical experts worry expanding the drugâs availability could cause other problems. WOSU talks with a mom who says she could have saved her son. Theresa Stock, of Strongsville, a suburb of Cleveland, tried to help her 25-year-old son beat heroin. Last summer, after a stint in rehab, Randy Stock moved in with his parents. The day he arrived, Randy relapsed and overdosed. He had battled a year-long heroin addiction. âHe was supposed to be taking a shower. And he hadnât come out," she recalled. When Theresa got to her son he was unconscious.
The breathing, the breathing is what he needed. I mean, he was just blue.
She could not save him. A few weeks later, Theresa learned about a drug, Narcan, which could have. The drug can reverse a heroin overdose within minutes. âWe literally were just watching him die. We didnât know what to do," Stock said. "Had we had Narcan we could have used the Narcan on him. At that point, myself, we didnât know what Narcan was.â? What is Narcan? Narcan is the brand name for naloxone. It sends someone overdosing on heroin or synthetic opioids into immediate withdrawals and restores breathing. Narcan has been around for decades, and Theresa Stock is now trying to get it into the hands of family and friends of addicts. And Ohio lawmakers are considering that right now. A bill, House Bill 170,Â would allow doctors to prescribe naloxone to family members or friends of someone at high-risk for an opiate overdose. Currently, only addicts can get the drug. âRealistically, itâs the loved ones that need it. They need to have it on hand when they know that their family member has an addiction to opiates like that, they have to have it," Stock said. The debate comes as Ohio tries to keep up with a changing drug epidemic. First prescription pain meds were the problem. So authorities cracked down on pill mills. And they created a database to track prescription pain medication. More:Â Federal drug czar endorses medication for first responders to treat heroin overdoses Increase in abuse As it became tougher to get pain meds, some addicts turned to heroin. Now heroin overdoses are skyrocketing, ODâs in Franklin County have more than doubled since 2010. The county saw 73 deaths in 2012. âThe last thing I remember is kind of cooking the heroin, or getting it ready, and the next thing I remember is waking up in the hospital," Myles Dawson, 25, of Marysville, recalled. Dawson came close to being a statistic. Three-and-a-half years ago Dawson relapsed following treatment for heroin addiction. Naloxone reversed both of his overdoses. âNarcanâs definitely a miracle drug. It will definitely save lives and change lives," he said. Columbus Fire Captain Anthony Brooks wonât argue. The 20-year veteran has seen Narcan saves lives. In just the past two months, the departmentâs medics have administered naloxone more than 212 times. Thatâs about 5 times a day. But Brooks worries about giving Narcan to lay people. While itâs easy to administer â through the nose or by an auto-injector like an EpiPen â he said it can wear off before the heroin does. And Brooks said thatâs dangerous. âAnd heâs right back in respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest, overdose, death. Thatâs why we would like to have it in the hands of the medical professionals," Brooks said. "I do see value to have it available, but I just canât rationalize having it available without the caveat of having 9-1-1 involved.â? The proposed legislation does not require family or friends to call 9-1-1, it only suggests it. The bill, "Authorizes a physician or other health care professional who is authorized toÂ prescribe drugs to personally furnish naloxone or issue a prescription for the drug toÂ a friend, family member, or other individual in a position to provide assistance to anÂ individual who there is reason to believe is at risk of experiencing an opioid-relatedÂ overdose." Ohio State doctor Eric Cortez, who works with Columbus Fire, said the drug can have adverse effects: high blood pressure, fast heart rate, breathing problems and uncontrollable agitation which can cause a patient to aspirate vomit. âThe policymakers have to keep in mind most of the time itâs not a harmful drug and it saves lives. But there is a small percentage of the time that there are negative side effects," Cortez said. And Captain Brooks worries widespread availability of naloxone could lead to increased heroin use. âWe donât want Narcan out on the street because it may enable people to think, 'Oh, itâs OK to take heroin because I have the antidote right here.'â? But Theresa Stock, whose son Randy died from heroin overdose, said that wonât happen. âNobody wants that. Nobody wants it because it sends them into immediate withdrawal. And nobody wants to have that feeling. Itâs not an excuse. Thatâs not an excuse. Thatâs not going to happen. It couldâve saved him.â? The Ohio House approved Narcan distribution to family in October. The Senate is now considering it, but no date has been set for a vote. More from NPR:Â It's Proven To Save Lives, So Why Is Maine Opposed To Narcan?