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Mom of Overdose Victim Learns Narcan Saves a Life

By Jennie Runevitch, WTHR reporter
Posted: Nov 25, 2014 10:26 PM EST 

Click here to see the full story at 13

INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis mother is on the front lines in the fight against heroin.

When Justin Phillips lost her 20-year-old son to a heroin overdose, she turned grief into action. Now, she’s learned her efforts to help others, through Narcan kit donations, have literally saved a life.

“I felt like it was something I could do to really help make a difference and stop this from happening to other families,” Phillips explained.

In her son Aaron’s honor, one year after his death, Justin donated Narcan kits to Indianapolis Metro Police.

Narcan, or Naloxone, is a prescription drug that when given to someone in the midst of an overdose, can save a life.

Justin knew Narcan worked, but she never expected her donation to get personal, to make a direct connection with a family she helped to save.

That happened with Bloomington mother, Jeanette Richart.

This fall, Richart’s son, Doug, overdosed on heroin in Indianapolis. Metro Police, armed with a Narcan kit, used it on Doug. He survived and is now getting help in rehab.

After her son was saved by that kit, Jeanette saw Justin on WTHR, talking about her donation to IMPD. So one mother reached out to another, compelled to say thanks.

“She saw me on Channel 13 and she saw that I gave the kits and so she searched through the Internet to figure out how to get in touch with me,” Phillips said.

“Words can’t express how thankful I am. Even though her son had died, mine was alive because of something she did. I consider you my best buddy,” Richart told Phillips by phone.

“I know I thank you, Jeanette,” Phillips responded. “I really appreciate that.”

Phillips says that unexpected thank you doesn’t ease her own pain, but gives it added purpose.

“It’s almost like if you were an organ donor and you know that you had saved someone’s life, even though you had lost your loved one. It felt that way,” Phillips explained. “It was exactly what I’d hoped for, that we were going save real people, with real names, just like Aaron was a real person.”

They are two moms, bonded by the effects of a dangerous drug. Now, they are both on a mission to stop it.

“I told Bloomington Police about the kits too, Justin,” Richart told Phillips. “They should get them here. It could save others like my son.”

“And he’s alive and he gets a second chance and that’s what matters,” Phillips said.

Phillips is still raising money for additional Narcan kits so that even more police departments across central Indiana have them to help overdose victims. She also has a fundraiser* scheduled next month for her organization, Overdose-Lifeline, Inc. which raises awareness about drug addiction.

*Full details about the fundraiser and how you can contribute to Overdose-Lifeline and its important work while enjoying dinner can be found here.

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