Naloxone is an overdose antidote that can save a heroin addict's life, but some say it's ending up in the wrong hands.Tommy Gonzales of Monroe overdosed on heroin for the fourth and final time last year. He died before the paramedics got to him.
The first three times, he was treated with Naloxone, also known as Narcan, a drug that counteracts the effects of a heroin overdose. Tommyâ??s aunt, Megan McKeone, calls it a lifesaver.
â??My nephew lived for three more years because of Narcan,â?? McKeone said. â??Three more precious years. He died at 27, but we had him for those three years,â?? McKeone said.
Sheâ??s the founder of a group called Stand Against Heroin. Their latest goal: expanding the legal use of the overdose antidote.
An Ohio law passed this year, allowing friends and family members of addicts to carry the antidote. McKeone said she wants a similar law for Michigan, where only medical personnel and addicts carry it. A bill package currently being considered by Michigan lawmakers would allow prescriptions for friends and family members of addicts.
Dr. Donald Brock of Mercy Memorial Hospital said the drug has potentially dangerous side effects.
â??They can vomit. They can aspirate, have airway issues,â?? he said. â??So the administration of the drug itself is not completely benign.â??
Naloxone is used in Mercyâ??s emergency room on a daily basis. Brock said itâ??s a miracle drugâ??but one that should only be administered in a controlled setting.
â??Thereâ??s so many circumstances you have to consider,â?? Brock said. â??In my opinion, it just really is not appropriate to have it available everywhere to everyone.â??
Tommy Gonzales didnâ??t have a controlled setting. He died by himself in a gas station bathroom. McKeone wonders everyday what would have happened to Tommy if Naloxone were more readily available--if the gas station attendant, or someone nearby had the drug.
She wants to take Ohioâ??s law a step farther, and have the drug available over the counter.
â??Where the hotel is, that we all know in Monroe County,â?? McKeone said. â??There are drugs rampant there. Why not have it on hand there?â??
Every day, she hears from people who say heroin addicts will only be more inclined to shoot up because of Naloxone.
â??Theyâ??re going to get high regardless of whether they have Narcan or not,â?? she said. â??Theyâ??re going to continue to get high. The difference here is, they could be able to survive.â??
Itâ??s a drug that can take someone from the brink of death, and push them back into life.
But it pushed Tommy Gonzalesâ??three timesâ??back into his life of addiction.
Naloxone--a drug that saves the day, but does not solve the problem.