SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – More than 3,000 Utahns are alive and receiving a second chance at life thanks to the efforts of Utah Naloxone. All of these individuals were given the medication naloxone (Narcan) during an opioid overdose by a non-medical layperson around them.
Anthoney Young is one of them.
For seven years drugs consumed his life. His addiction started with oxycontin which then led to heroin.
“It’s been my demon for sure,” Young told ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.
The good. The bad. The ugly. Heroine numbed it all.
“I was lost. I got to a point in my life where I lost all hope. I had nobody to reach out to and nobody cared,” he said.
Young recalls the night he overdosed.
“I was soaking wet. My mom had put me in the bathtub to try and wake me back up.”
First responders tried to reverse his overdose with Narcan nasal spray, but it was the shot of naloxone that saved his life.
“I remember them telling me that had I not woke up on that last shot I would have been gone. I knew at that moment that I needed help.”
Within minutes of administering naloxone, the affected person is able to breathe again, often revived from the brink of death.
“The guilt and the shame of my son being there while it happened really weighs on me,” Young admitted. “It was one of the first times I had ever seen my mom scared,” he added.
It’s been argued that saving the lives of active drug users with naloxone could make drug use more appealing.
“Nobody is really ready until they’re ready. But if we can save that life at least one more time, maybe the next day they’re going to be ready,” explained Young.
The father of two is receiving treatment from Odyssey House Utah and is on his last step to completing the program.
“I’m excited. I’m definitely scared. I’ve never really lived an adult being sober before.”
Young will face challenges on his new beginning but has no intentions of wasting a new chance at life.
“This is probably like my third or fourth chance, but this one is different. I love who I am today. I love the relationship that I have with my family. I love the fact that I am a good father and that my kids love who I am. This place (Odyssey House Utah) has given me all of that.”
According to Naloxone Utah, overdose is still the leading cause of injury death in the state, and Utah still is among states with a high rate of overdose deaths. If you or someone you know is taking opioids, the organization recommends having naloxone on hand in case of an overdose.
Naloxone kits are available through Utah Naloxone.
It is legal to possess the drug, and legal to administer it if you suspect someone is overdosing on opioids.
For more information go to UtahNaloxone.org.