Narcan can save lives but it’s no answer

Making Narcan readily available to the public has the potential to give drug users the temptation to push their high to the limit and then return from the brink of death


The guy who gave me my most recent haircut is dead. He died in his sleep, a peaceful death no doubt, floating away on a narcotic high, no regrets, no fear, just oblivion. Kind of like how he lived; on an opiate high, no regrets, no fear, and simply oblivious that at 32 there’s a lot more to life than Ecstasy on the weekends, Mollies every now and then, Oxycontin pills when they were available, and heroin when they were not.

He used to tell me that he was in recovery because he quit drinking. The drugs were just a pastime, he would say, laughing when I told him he was still an addict. He was larger than life, full of street wisdom and wit, took pride in the fact that he could get anything you, or he, wanted.

If only he had wanted to live.

I used to think as he did, and believed that drugs and alcohol would set me free, and help me to enjoy life to the fullest, and take my mind and body places that I could never go, or even imagine. It was only when I left all of that behind that I began to truly live, and feel, and experience life in its natural state, with all of the joy, triumph, pain, misery and satisfaction that comes with it.

Drugs and alcohol kept me prisoner, trapped in a cycle of highs and lows; a giant roadblock keeping me from experiencing life to the fullest. If only the 45 people who have died so far in 2014 from accidental overdoses (as I write this) had figured that out, I wouldn’t be looking for a new barber, a little girl wouldn’t be without her dad, and a lot of people wouldn’t be without their friends, sons, daughters and parents.

The drug naloxone, or Narcan, has the potential to save the lives of persons who have overdone whatever opiate they have chosen to overdo. It is an opioid antagonist designed to counter life-threatening depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. It works. I have administered it and seen it work hundreds of times. I have also seen hundreds of people take things so far that no opioid antagonist will ever reverse their condition.

Making Narcan readily available to the public has the potential to save the lives of people who have overdosed and happen to have a responsible person nearby to administer the drug. It also has the potential to give drug users the temptation to push their high to the limit and then return from the brink of death through the judicious use of the miracle drug that they now can get as easily as they can their drug of choice.

I wish Narcan were the answer. It is not, just as the drugs and alcohol of my youth were not. Just as the fentanyl-laced heroin that is killing so many people this year who were looking for peace, serenity and escape is not.

The answer for those inclined to seek escape through intoxicants is abstinence, and an honest and diligent pursuit of contented sobriety.

About the author

Michael Morse is a retired Rescue Captain with the Providence (RI) Fire Department. He is the author of the books Mr. Wilson Makes it Home, Rescuing Providence and Responding. His columns appear in numerous fire and EMS publications and the Providence Journal. He can be reached by email to Michael Morse

  1. Tags
  2. Drugs
  3. Narcan
  4. Narcotics

Recommended Drugs

Join the discussion