Tuesday, November 17, 2015
(KUTV) For ten years, Theo Haskins lived in fear that her son Mitch, who is a heroin addict, would overdose. Then on Oct. 13, her fear became a reality.
Haskins woke up from a nap to find Mitch slumped-over on the couch and barely breathing. She ran to her dining room table and grabbed the naloxone rescue kit she’d gotten just days earlier. She nervously opened the package, then squirted the naloxone dose into her son’s nostril. She called 911.
While she was on the phone with 911, her son started breathing again.
“I’m so grateful,” she said recalling the day when she saved her son’s life with the drug.
A new law, passed in Utah in 2014, makes it possible for people who are not addicts to get naloxone. It can be prescribed by any doctor or pharmacist in Utah to a person who can save someone from an overdose of prescription pain pills or heroin.
Ana Fondario, Injury Epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health, said in 2014, 290 Utahns died from overdose of prescription pain pills. In the same year, 119 people died from heroin overdose. The numbers for 2015 are too preliminary to release she said.
The state of Utah is trying to educate pharmacists and doctors about the new law. A recent survey showed that many doctors still don’t know about the law or are reluctant to prescribe naloxone. Fondario said along with educating doctors and pharmacists, the state is trying to establish a system for dispensing naloxone kits and tracking their use.
Mitch is now in rehab. He’s been to rehab in the past – by court order. This time he chose to go on his own.
“To have her save my life like that is pretty intense,” said Mitch recalling the moment he started breathing again and saw his mother and paramedics standing over him.
Dr. Jennifer Plumb, a professor at the University of Utah and an emergency room doctor at Primary Children’s Hospital, is the doctor who have Theo the Naloxone Rescue Kit. She heads Utah Naloxone, a program that makes the kits available to the public UtahNaloxone.org. She can prescribe the overdose-reversing drug to a spouse, parent, child or friend of an addict.
The kits come with instructions and overall, the medication is easy to administer either by nasal spray or syringe. The syringe method is easier. Plumb usually offers a brief training.
Naloxone is not addictive and overall is considered safe.
Plumb said she is not surprised that Mitch decided to go to rehab after his mother
“There is something about your mom, someone non-medical being there when you wake up,” she said of the power of being saved by someone you love. Plumb said it’s a powerful moment for the addict and for the person who saves the addict from death.
That was true for Mitch. He said he’s been saved with naloxone before by a doctor. Having his mom do it was different, he says.
His mother often thinks of what could have happened had she not had the naloxone kit in her house. Lately, she carries around Dr. Plumb’s business card and hands it out to everyone she can to spread the word about the kits.
Haskins said if it saved her son’s life, then it can save the lives of others. She wants every parent of an addict child to have a kit.
“Do whatever you have to do to get it,” she said of the naloxone kit.