The Heroin Antidote: A Push to Save Lives - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

The Heroin Antidote: A Push to Save Lives

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SALISBURY, Md.- Over the past few years, prescription drug abuse has been trending downward across the country, and here on Delmarva. But while one problem is getting better, another is quickly taking its place. And it is having deadly consequences. But that is a trend that can be reversed.

The problem is real.

“It can destroy a family,” noted Sherri Cox of Parsonsburg.

“It's affecting every part of our community,” added Heather Brown with the Wicomico County Health Department.

“A lot of times, it's the person that you don't suspect,” remarked Queen Anne’s County Sheriff Gary Hofmann.

And the problem is growing.

“This is a trend that is a nationwide trend,” said Hofmann.

The problem is heroin.

“Heroin actually, back in the 70's, used to be something that was a designer drug,” Hofmann explained. “It was very expensive and very hard to get. Now, heroin's very cheap, it's inexpensive. It's about ten dollars for a small capsule of heroin, versus $35 or $40 for a prescription pill.”

It is a problem Sherri Cox knows all too well.

“Basically, it's not your typical drug story,” she told WBOC. “My son came from a good home, good family. His dad's in law enforcement. He went to school, graduated, played a lot of sports.”

Yet he became an unexpected face of addiction.

“His addiction basically took over his life,” Cox explained. “From the time he got up until the time he went to bed, he had to figure out, you know, how he was going to get his next fix.”

A fix with a price tag. For Cox’s son, $100 to $200 a day between pills and heroin. And for some, much more.

“You're always worried about whether or not you're going to get a phone call from the police saying, you know, we found your son dead. He's overdosed.”

But Sherri's son, is, perhaps, one of the lucky ones. His addiction landed him a 7 ½ year prison sentence.

“Probably the best thing that could have happened to him was him getting in trouble and getting locked up,” she said. “Because, quite honestly, if he continued on the road that he was, he was going to end up dead.”

Others aren't so lucky. For 100 Americans every day, heroin is a death sentence.

But it doesn't have to be.

At the Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office, deputies are being trained on the newest tool in their arsenal. It is called Naloxone, or Narcan.
And it is heroin's worst enemy.

“Narcan actually works to reverse the effects of an opiate in the system,” explained Hofmann.

Yes, the so-called "miracle drug" undoes the damage of some of the most deadly drugs around. You can see it in action in the attached YouTube video; a victim of a heroin overdose literally brought back from the dead.

“This gives us an ability to save lives,” remarked Brown.

In Wicomico County, Brown is helping in the push to get Narcan into the hands of local law enforcement agencies.

“The sooner, the better, so that we can equip officers with the ability to further assist in saving lives.”

Nationwide, it is already carried and administered by EMS personnel, but often, officers are the first to respond to the scene, in a situation where time is crucial.

In Quincy, Mass., police officers have been carrying Narcan since 2010. In that time, more than 200 lives have been saved. Now, many other agencies, including Queen Anne's County, are following their lead.

“If we can save one life by the prevention programs that we're doing, or even administering one dose of Narcan, our job, it's worth it,” said Sheriff Hofmann. “I mean, that's the thing that we're here for is to serve and protect and make sure that our community is safe and that we protect lives.”

But Narcan isn't without criticism. Some say it just enables addicts.

“I disagree,” Hofmann remarked. “I think that we're responsible to have the tools in law enforcement to protect and to provide care when needed.”

It is a mission those who know the problem firsthand are on board with.

“God knows, we need help with it,” said Cox. “Because the epidemic has just gotten out of control.”

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