Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A surreal day....

Today, I drove down into the city to meet with a man at a harm reduction clinic to be trained in administering Narcan. I am now "certified" (I use that term loosely, the training took 10 minutes.....but I do have a certificate!) to administer Narcan.

For those of you who don't know what Narcan or Naloxone are..... "Naloxone, also known as Narcan among other names, is a medication used to reverse the effects of opioids especially in the event of an overdose."

Driving down the hill, all I could think about was how I couldn't believe I was doing this. I am going to be trained in how to administer an antidote in case my daughter overdoses. This is the most bizarre thing in the world. So I met this older man who spoke with a heavy Australian accent .... my instructor. When we spoke on the phone to set up our appointment, he ended our call with, "Cheers, mate."   I probably outweighed this interesting little fellow by 100lbs. He told me that he also was a long time heroin addict "so I know what I'm talking about mate". In recovery or not, I don't know, but he is passionate about helping addicts to use safely....if there is such a thing. "If you want to use....use, but lets do it safely. Lets help them to stay alive until they can stop."  He rattled off depressing statistics and called it a "pandemic." He was very kind, matter of fact, very real and I just liked him right away.

(This next paragraph may be upsetting to some if you have had your own real life experience with any of proceed with caution.)

He taught me what the signs of overdose are...some were obvious, like not breathing, blue around the mouth and finger nails, non-responsive to pain stimuli or yelling out, "COPS!" draw up the entire vial and inject it into their tongue. Sometimes you may need to "hit" them twice. If they are breathing but non-responsive, not answering questions and unable to form words, you can inject them in the upper arm or upper quarter of their butt, you can go right through their clothes. You need to lay them on their side with one knee bent and pulled up in case they throw up, use rescue breathing if they aren't breathing or breathing is shallow, until help arrives. When/if they wake up they won't know what has happened. They need someone to stay with them, because the Narcan will wear off in about 30 minutes and the high or the overdose can return and they will need another shot.

 My new friend hugged me on my way out the door and said, "I hope this will give you some peace of mind mum." I dropped it off where my girl lives and explained how to use it. I said, it was for my own sake that I was dropping it off. Maybe, hopefully, we will never need it..... but for my own sake, I need to know that its there. I hugged my girl and kissed her on the cheek and went back up my mountain to pick up little one from school, like this is just any other normal day.   

When I think about it all.....its just stunningly crazy. No tears, no hysteria, just the factual information and materials in case they ever need them. ONLY parents of addicts will get how weird this all feels,  but how normal it is too. Whats normal in our crazy world.

Where there is breath there is hope. Always praying for us all....and my book winners, your books went out yesterday morning. I loved hearing from all who emailed.
Much much love.....

Below is a video giving instruction on how to administer Narcan by injection. It also comes in a nasal spray and in most states is now available without a prescription at your local pharmacy. Or there are Narcan/Naloxone harm reduction programs that will instruct you and provide you with what you need. If you have a loved one addicted to opiates in any form, I encourage you to have Narcan on hand....just in case the unthinkable ever happens. God forbid.



Dad and Mom said...

Annette, this is reality. You did the right thing and hopefully this is knowledge you never need to call on in real life.

Reminds me of the time when Alex had a staff infection in both arms. He was in the hospital for 2 weeks. Could have died from the infections. When he was released my oldest daughter, who is a nurse, sat Alex down and showed him how to shoot up properly. Explained why he need alcohol swabs and why you needed to swab the skin before puncturing it with a needle. From that time on we always kept alcohol wipes at our home and they were out and accessible. Alex then kept alcohol swabs in his "kit".

Our reasoning was heroin my kill him but there is no reason a staff infection should kill him. One of my jobs was to keep him alive until the day came that he would quit.

I remember writing about this on my blog and got blasted by some readers as enabling. There were even harsh words for my daughter as a nurse explaining and showing him how to inject safely.

We have come a long way where now you can get and administer Narcan. Progress is being made for our children. I am just an impatient person and wish we could do more and do it sooner.

This may be a whole other subject but i have come the realization heroin clinics may have their place in society today. It isn't about legalization but about safety and health. Clean sterile clinics with resources for help if needed, not just shooting up but guidance for recovery too.

Dad and Mom said...


ps.: Thank you for this post. It gave me the courage to write something I have bee thinking about for quite a while. See it on my blog.


Liz said...

I also attended training and have a kit in my house - just in case.

Birdie said...

Oh, Annette. No parent should ever have to know this. I am so glad that it is there but it must break your fragile mother's heart.

Anonymous said...

After my son overdosed in my home in 2012 I searched on line how to get Narcan. I was able to go to the training and get it and also had my younger son trained as well. I was really glad I did that because they also agreed to come to my Nar-Anon group and trained the entire group and provided kits and have been continuing to do so whenever needed. It really is a necessity to have in your home even when the addict has been in recovery for years. I agree with you it felt surreal having to do this but I never wanted to be unprepared again after finding my son almost dead on his bedroom floor.


Mary Christine said...

Oh dear God. I recently found an old e-mail I had written to my BFF about my daughter rolling on my kitchen floor, tearing off her clothes. It is amazing what can come to be the "new normal." I pray for you and your girl. Xxxooo