Those saved from over­dose get 2nd chance

The Community Connection - - OPINION -

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.

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