With Narcan, when is enough?

DEAR EDITOR:

Many have an opinion about whether Narcan serves a useful purpose in society. It’s a life-saving medication that revives opioid abusers after overdoses.

Some think the addicted made a choice. It’s their own fault, they say, don’t administer Narcan because they made the deadly choice to abuse opioids. Save the time and money and send the paramedics on other calls that really count.

Truly, it is difficult to argue against that point, especially as a knee-jerk reaction. To the casual observer, it may seem the instructions for administering Narcan must resemble those on a bottle of hair shampoo: apply daily, rinse, repeat again and again.

Other people believe addiction is a mental illness that cannot be addressed by letting addicts die from overdose. We must save them to have any chance of saving them.

I used to think, “Too bad; let them die. They chose the actions, they deal with the consequences.” It was a quick, convenient way to dismiss the incident from my mind.

My attitude changed radically when I had “skin” in the game. My son Robert died at 33 last June from long-term effects of addiction to opioids and the old stand-by starter for teens, grass and alcohol. Combined with a general health neglect, he died from a huge coronary. Many substances showed in his toxicology reports, but none were at lethal level. Narcan would have done little to resurrect him.

The shock quickly taught me addiction is a mental illness, a disease, a defect.

My son was living on the streets. I wasn’t sure if he was on heroin, but I knew he was an addict and alcoholic from about age 16, from times when he lived at home. When you live with a hard core addict, you become an addict by association. It’s earth-shaking to the family. It is pernicious because we never “did” his drugs, but we were forced to experience the consequences.

Before his death I took training in Narcan administration. I am thankful for the church and Warren Health Department sponsors.

I never administered Narcan to my son. I do have the Narcan kit in my car. Rest assured, God forbid, if I come across your loved one in the death throes of an opioid overdose, if I can, I will try to revive them. If you are there, will you tell me not to waste that stuff on an addict? Will you tell the paramedics to move on to a more serious call and save the life of someone who really matters? I think not.

I pray God spares you from this hell.

DENNIS BECK

Liberty Township

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