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Mother Saves Her Son From Overdose Thanks To Pilot Program

A tube of Naloxone Hydrochloride, also known as Narcan, is shown for scale next to a lipstick container. (AP)

A tube of Naloxone Hydrochloride, also known as Narcan, is shown for scale next to a lipstick container. (AP)

Here in Massachusetts, doctors are crediting a new pilot program with a recent drop in some drug overdose deaths.  The program, started by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and now used in over 15 states, uses Naloxone, which is injected into overdosing addicts. Doctors say it reverses or halts the effects of heroin and other opiates.

In 2006 it became available as a nasal spray and last year the FDA held hearings to consider whether it should be sold over the counter. That year Massachusetts and several other states began distributing an emergency kit including Naloxone to those most likely to see an overdose: outreach workers, shelters, drug users and parents.

The Boston Globe reports that the program is credited with reversing more than 1,800 overdoses from heroin, prescription painkillers and other opiates.

The kit helped one mother, who two years ago used the nasal spray to save her son from a heroin overdose. She told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that she wonders why more parents don’t know about it.

“They have lived in fear of overdosing and sometimes their kids have overdosed and I am so shocked that there’s not more known,” she said.

The mother wishes to remain anonymous.


  • Dr. Alexander Walley, Boston University
  • Massachusetts mother who administered it to her child (she wishes to remain unnamed)

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  • Kp85

    This mother is a hero–it is so hard for parents to face a child’s addiction and take action; she and her husband undoubtedly saved her son’s life.  My best wishes to them and their son for continued recovery. I hope they never have to go through something like this again.

  • Montel30

    all this drug use must stop …
    more drug education must be added in school, communities,churches,fairs
    So sad:::{{

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      the only was we will ever tackle it is if we can end prohibition

    • Susannefreeze

      I so agree.  My son told me that they only go over it in ninth grade.  They mention the different drugs but they don’t explain what the true effects are.  They don’t tell them how they can become addicted and keep needing more and more or how it will take over their life.

  • Traviswdt

    A must hear program for parents and friendsmofmparents with addicted children of any age.

  • http://twitter.com/PossessionLaws Drug Possession Laws

    Great program, it seems like a no-brainer! All upside, no particular risk if you do it wrong.

    http://www.drugpossessionlaws.com/help-prevent-ods-make-narcan-emergency-kits-available-without-a-prescription/These should be more common than defibrillators, and can truly save lives.

  • Harm Redux

    It was me and another person who began the underground Naloxone distribution to injection drug users in MASS.  Not EMT’s

    • Buckinghamjen

       Are you still in operation ( person interested in outreach/needle exchange). My friend runs a program in New Orleans, and I was interested in becoming involved in one locally. If it’s something you want to stay discreet, maybe there’s a way you could forward  information through email?

    • Mds275

      True that your work bringing naloxone to MA in 2004 laid the ground work for massive scale up, provided the proof of feasibility & saved lives. Apparently the part about drug users themselves being responsible for 90% of OD reversals also was edited out.
      Boston EMS was pretty groundbreaking in developing a protocol that allowed basic EMTs to administer nasal naloxone- effective and cost saving to not rely only on advanced life support trucks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    this seems like a stopgap solution to much larger problem. like the suicide nets on chinese factories

  • annette

    She and her husband
    really are heroes for saving their son’s life and for continuing to create
    awareness for this. It takes brave people to do this, to speak out and relive
    your trauma by doing so. I have so much respect for them…If only by doing this one person gets to live after taking an overdose, they will save another life.

  • Cgroff10

    I have never heard of this Naloxone until just a few weeks ago and I agree this is something all parents of addicts should have one hand; but where would you get this. I am a mother of an addict. Memphis, TN has nothing to help not even that new law about another person or addict calling 911 to save someone who is overdosing. My son was locked up and his probation taken away because he was trying to get someone to the hospital bc the other people at a party did not want 911 to be called. SO, my son takes him and puts him in our car and gets stopped for speeding and was on the phone with a 911 operator who told him to stop and let the officers help, he did, they did not help, an ambulance came and took the boy to the hospital and made it, my son was hauled off to jail and lost probation. Memphis does have lots and lots of drug dealers and pushers still on the street to reak havoc on the streets getting more and more children hooked on all this crap.

  • mom of Heroin’s Puppet

    My daughter was 33 days into her first treatment program when she snuck drugs in and overdosed in December 2009. The facility did not have nasal Narcan. As soon as the EMTs arrived they administered nasal, then IV Narcan. But it was too late. She was pronounced dead less than two hours later, weeks shy of her 21st birthday, a junior in the nursing program at Boston College. The facility now has Narcan and trained staff. Anyone whose loved one is going into treatment for opiates needs to ask if the facility has Narcan readily available and trained staff. We did not know to ask.

  • kat22

    I heard about this Naloxone and with a son in recovery I felt we should have it in our house. I looked on line to find it with no luck. Went in and asked the pharmacist at our local Walgreens and they sold me 2 kits, no problem. Who knew? I live in Ohio. I am sure states have different regulations.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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