INDIANAPOLIS – Justin Phillips is a mother who believes she could’ve saved her son’s life if a heroin antidote had been available to her at the time of his death.
“What we really need is for it to be in the hands of normal people –
you and I, the other users or family members,” Phillips said.
Now, that’s possible.
A new state law allows Hoosiers to obtain a prescription for Naloxone if they are worried that a friend or family member might overdose.
Naloxone – also known as Narcan – is an intervention drug that reverses heroin overdose effects. The drug is administered through a syringe – without a needle – and shot into the user’s nose.
Once the drug is injected, it “awakens” the individual from an overdose.
Before Senate Bill 406 passed, only emergency workers – including first responders, EMTs and police officers – were allowed to carry the antidote. And in the past year, those workers have saved 1,000 lives using it.
Phillips’ son, Aaron Sims, died from a heroin overdose in October of 2013.
“He had some noticeable behavior changes in the summer of 2013, and in October he asked me for help,” said Phillips, who lives in Indianapolis.
Phillips was scared, saying that she “didn’t know a lot about heroin.”
Looking back, she said she thinks that if Narcan had been available at the time of her son’s death, the outcome might have been different.
The bill’s author, Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, would like to think so too. He said that because of Narcan, the chances of someone surviving a heroin overdose are “very good.”
But after administering the drug, he said, “it’s really imperative that someone calls 911.”
Merritt and Sims joined Gov. Mike Pence for a ceremonial bill signing last month. At that time, Merritt said he hopes the antidote will do more than just save lives in the future.
“I hope it raises awareness that heroin is a scourge and an epidemic in all of our communities around the state of Indiana,” Merritt said. “I hope it wakes us up to the fact that we need to get to the point of treatment recovery.”
Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement that passing this legislation is critical, but it’s a “last resort.”
“The conversation must be about continuing to address the root causes of addiction,” Zoeller said, “and getting people on a path to recovery.”
Katie Stancombe is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.