My husband and I have a 20-year-old daughter and a 21-year-old son who live at home. Our son struggles with heroin addiction. Over the past 4 years, we’ve tried many things to help him to stop using. Mostly we are only successful in causing lots of interference with his drug use. Many times he does become sober but eventually, relapse seems to win.
In late October 2016, my husband and I learned from watching a local news segment that naloxone or “Narcan” could be made available directly to us as parents or to others that may be close to a heroin or opiate addict. We have been horrified by the constant and increasing reports of overdose deaths and worry greatly that our son could be next. If our son was ever to need emergency help the location of our house is not quickly accessible to first responders. After watching the news segment I immediately emailed the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation that was mentioned in the story and requested to attend their November 3rd, 2016 naloxone training class. I felt it very necessary to obtain naloxone but never imagined that I would ever use it.
I attended the November 3rd training and received kit #2501 which contained two doses of naloxone. With having a heroin user in the house I struggled with where I should keep the kit as I didn’t want the needles to disappear. I decided to leave it in my purse, for the time being, was best.
Three weeks later on Friday, November 25th, at around 8:30 am after a long day of hosting Thanksgiving with family, I suddenly awoke to frantic screams from my son that something was wrong with my daughter, Callie. I ran into Callie’s bedroom and saw the most frightening sight ever; my daughter appeared to be dead. She was an awful color of gray and her lips were a deep blue. She was unresponsive and cold. I screamed for my husband and he rushed upstairs. He was unsure if she had a pulse, so they moved Callie from her bed to the floor and started CPR.
At this point, my husband I and had no idea what had happened to her. While calling 911 I ran to my purse and grabbed the naloxone kit that I had obtained at training. I wasn’t sure why I was getting the kit as our daughter had never used heroin or opioids. I remembered what I had been taught at the training, “when in doubt…use the naloxone”.
Our daughter Callie was born and raised in a home on Lake Minnetonka. She was always a good girl who never got in trouble. During high school, Callie excelled in sports, especially softball. She was all-conference her junior & senior year, a home run leader in the state, and chosen as a Minnesota All-Star player her senior year.
Being that her brother suffered from addiction, Callie didn’t want anything to do with drugs. She did not want to hang around friends who began to smoke pot and drink alcohol. Instead, she put her time and energy into her sport.
After graduation, she felt like an outcast. To be social with her friends she felt pressure to start smoking pot. She went off to South Dakota to college and soon after, her pot smoking increased dramatically. Shortly after that, she got caught up in the major methamphetamine crisis that is affecting South Dakota. She said meth made her a “social person” and quickly she had an addition. Immediately upon learning of this drug use, my son and I brought Callie home to Minnesota on September 30, 2016. She started an outpatient treatment program in October. Our son suddenly started using more heroin after his sister returned home. We were upset with him. Callie was worried and would search his room and belongings because she didn’t want him to die from heroin. Heroin was the one drug she told everyone she would never touch because of how it has affected our lives.
On Thanksgiving evening, Callie and her brother announced they were going ‘Black Friday’ shopping and left the house around 11:15 pm. Instead of shopping, they headed to Mystic Lake Casino. My son had a lucky hand at cards and won $400. He quickly cashed out and with that money in hand the intense urge to use heroin overpowered him. They left the casino and spent $200 on heroin.
At 4:00 am Callie snorted her first line of heroin ever. My son had also been drinking, so Callie was the driver and had to pull over along the way to vomit from the heroin. Once home, Callie did a 2nd line at 6:00 am. That was the lethal dose for her. Her brother found her unresponsive at 8:30 am.
As my son and husband started CPR, in panic, I fumbled with the naloxone kit from the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation and I was able to administer the first dose into her thigh. Nothing, there was no sign of life from her. Her jaws were clenched and my husband couldn’t get the breaths into her mouth.
My son was performing such hard chest compressions I thought her bones would break. My son yelled for me to hurry to inject the 2nd dose of naloxone. I shot her with another dose in the thigh. Her tightly clenched jaw then released some.
It seemed she was forever lost. My son continued the hard chest compressions and my husband the breaths.
The first responders began to arrive. They took over CPR and administered naloxone at least twice more. The CPR continued for quite some time. I overheard a first responder say to another just arriving that we have a “female DOA”.
As I stood crying in the other room I thought we lost our daughter forever. Then I heard that they got her breathing started. Minutes after that she was moving her arms and legs. Finally, she came to and was awake…she was alive! She started to cry and talk and it was the best sound we ever heard. Someone said, “You’re lucky you had the naloxone to give your daughter…it saved her”.
First responders and the hospital emergency room nurses and doctors all seemed shocked that as parents we had naloxone. Both the first responders and the ER doctor reported to us that if it hadn’t been for those first 2 doses she wouldn’t have lived.
The hard chest compressions that our son provided also saved Callie as the naloxone would have just sat in her thigh unable to circulate without those compressions. The first responders gave her more naloxone and that, combined with a long period of CPR, they were able to bring her back to life. The ER doctor said she was very lucky to not have brain damage because of the amount of time without oxygen. He said it was simply a miracle.
We are so thankful for the sequence of events that led to Callie being revived. We are especially grateful to the Steve Rummler Hope Foundation and the first responders…they provided the services and resources that saved our daughter!
Since that horrible event, our son has now completed an inpatient detox, started a Suboxone maintenance program, and is attending a chemical dependency treatment program. Callie has transferred from an outpatient chemical dependency treatment to a residential inpatient program.
*Written by Callie’s Parents