Drug overdose deaths are at an all-time high. Opioids, such as heroin, depress the body’s will to breathe.That’s when an overdose happens.
Narcan stops an overdose.Some call it a miracle drug, a life saver, but not everyone is on board with that.
Ty Wilson, paramedic with Martins Ferry and Colerain’s e-squads, has administered Narcan to dozens of patients. He says it stops the overdose and they start breathing again.
“You’re able to revive these people before they suffer severe permanent brain damage or death,” Wilson said.
But the word “overdose” automatically means “drug addict” to some people. For that reason, some are opposed to Narcan. They think it gives addicts a false sense of security. Some even say drug addicts chose their path and shouldn’t be rescued from the consequences.
“It might encourage them to do more dope,” said Doris Saffol of Moundsville.
“It’s going to help you for a while, but then you’re going to go back on the drug,” said Ed Romanosky of Moundsville. “So I’m against it one hundred percent.”
But consider this, the people to whom Ty Wilson administered Narcan ranged in age from eight years old to 82. Neither the eight-year-old nor the 82-year-old were drug abusers.
“Children get into the wrong medication,” Wilson explained. “Adults accidentally forget that they’ve taken a dose of the medication, and they take another one.”
Narcan is now available in nasal mist, no longer just an IV that can only be given by advanced life support personnel. In some areas, police officers and family members of addicts carry it.
Wayne Campbell, founder of Tyler’s Light, wishes he’d had it three years ago.
“Our son overdosed and died in our home, in his bedroom, within 12 hours of leaving an in-patient treatment facility.”
Some individuals have been saved by Narcan, only to overdose again a week later.
First responders say they understand people’s opposition, but they don’t have time for philosophical debates; their job is to save lives.
“The drug epidemic, the heroin epidemic, is huge,” said Jerry Shumate, Weirton fire chief.
“The whole Ohio Valley is dealing with a major addiction issue,” agrees Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland, who is also commander of the Belmont County Drug Task Force. “And a lot of these people aren’t bad people.”
“Then of course what we hope for is that folks will take advantage of that second chance, and seek the help they need to fight the addiction,” said Wilson.
“I’m a nurse, and I feel it’s a beneficial drug,” said Mary Willis of Jewett. “I mean a life is a life, and it’s worth saving.”
“I think this drug can save lives,” said U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “And I think this drug in some cases can turn their lives around, and then they’re productive members of society. And that’s kind of what we all aim for.”