I carry it because my friend was not a junkie. I carry it because the doctor said it was safe. I carry it because others do not. I carry it for your child. I carry it for over 70 Arizona youth that died last year and wished someone carried it. Plain and simple, I carry Narcan because it saves live. Period.
The stigma that has followed the opioid epidemic will always be there until we as a community embrace the real faces of what an opioid overdose looks like. Does that face look like your neighbor, a parent, a family member, or even your child? That same stigma is why many people are unaware of the opportunity to give someone a second chance at life. Many people think that only junkies and addicts living on the streets overdose on opioids and do not deserve a second chance.
A variety people struggle with the disease of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Many who die of an overdose do not have an addiction. What about the over 70 Arizona youth that died last year from illicit fentanyl overdoses, many unknowing of what was about to happen. They were not addicts; they simply had a lapse in judgment just as we did when we were that age. They did not know the pill their friend gave them was a counterfeit pill laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 25-50 times stronger than heroin. A normal dose is the equivalent of 7 grains of salt, and 12 grains can be lethal to most people. Cartels are now making these pills look like other medications you may have taken before, like Vicodin, Percocet, or Xanax, but the end-user cannot tell the difference.
Many people who have left us from an opioid-induced overdose may have still been here to celebrate their next birthday with family or walk their child down the aisle on their wedding day, if more of us understood the faces of an opioid overdose. Narcan gives those precious moments back to some families, just as Arizona’s Good Samaritan Law protects people who try to save someone who is overdosing.
Therefore, I carry Narcan so that those faces of an opioid overdose have the chance to see the faces of their loved ones again.
Author Joe Tracey is Youth4Youth Program Director and member of the WOW Coalition. This prevention association promotes safe and healthy choices and responds to problems caused by alcohol, marijuana, and Rx abuse by implementing strategies to prevent and reduce youth substance use. For additional information, visit www.wowcoalition.org or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.