Those saved from overdose get 2nd chance
They are the lucky ones. They are the ones who have stared into the abyss that is the heroin scourge that is afflicting the nation – and lived to tell about it.
They are the ones saved from death’s door via a heroin overdose by the miracle drug Narcan, which is capable of reversing the effects of opioids or heroin and literally dragging a victim back to life.
And, of course, they are here because of the quick actions of first responders in quickly diagnosing the situation and administering the Narcan.
The growing use of Narcan, also known as naloxone, is the result of David’s Law, which was pushed by the family of an overdose victim and has resulted in the drug being placed in police and first responder vehicles across the state.
As of last Friday, there were 921 lives saved via David’s Law and Narcan.
Last Friday many of those saved came back to honor those who gave them that much-appreciated second chance – and testify to just how bad the heroin-opioid scourge is.
People like Brendan L., who came back to personally thank Nether Providence Officer Kevin Smith for his life-saving actions.
Today Brendan is thriving in recovery. He’s looking ahead. But first he wanted to look back, and thank the man he credits for saving his life, for making it possible for him now to pay it forward, to get a second chance at life, a happy, healthy, substance-free life.
More than 100 police officers attended the special banquet in Delaware County, which has been at the forefront of the suburban movement to combat heroin and opioid abuse.
The banquet was an opportunity for those saved to meet those responsible. Brendan was one of four overdose victims who appeared in a special video to talk about their experience, where they have been, and where they now plan to go with their second chance.
But first they wanted to do something else.
They wanted to thank those responsible.
David Moran is now director of the Crozer-Keystone Recovery Center. He works with those dealing with addiction every day. He knows where they’ve been, because he’s been there himself.
And he’s among those grateful for another chance.
“I am a survivor of overdose three times, a little over 25 years ago,” he points out on the video.
“I was administered Narcan on site. I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t … I am truly grateful for the second chance, the third chance and the fourth chance I received in my life and the opportunity do something with it ... If you think Narcan does not work, I am living proof.”
It is this idea of a second chance – and making the most of it – that was visibly evident at Friday’s special luncheon.
At the peak of his struggle, Brendan was spending $400 a day on drugs. Now he’s a fulltime student at West Chester University majoring in social work and working part time as a certified recovery specialist at a halfway house.
People like Brendan are emblematic of the next big challenge in the war on heroin and opioids. Narcan provides success stories, but many in law enforcement wonder about what happens after an overdose victim is revived.
They worry about the lack of treatment programs, and the likelihood that many of those revived will wind up reverting to old habits, often requiring the use of Narcan a second and third time.
But for one afternoon, it was enough to say it can be reversed.
People like Brendan – and the first responders who brought them back to life with Narcan – are proof of that.
Brendan was spending $400 a day on drugs. Now he’s a student at West Chester University majoring in social work and working at a halfway house.