Parents should carry naloxone, just in case

Letter to the Editor
Published: 1/11/2010 12:01 AM

This letter is in response to the Dec. 18 article by Jamie Sotonoff entitled "Mother of suburban teen who died warns others." To the Editor, thank you for the story on the rising toll from heroin overdoses in the suburbs.

I applaud the courage of Chrystal Beinlich, Lea Minalga, Mary Jo Capone, Jody Daitchman, and Michelle Hines, whose grief is inspiring them to speak out. Dr. Michael Born raised concerns about the safety of Narcan. As medical director of Chicago Recovery Alliance, I have seen absolutely no safety problems after having distributed Narcan to more than 15,000 people and received reports of more than 1,300 successful uses of Narcan in reversing overdose.

Other arguments against Narcan include "but won't they just use more heroin?" Do we consider death by overdose to be preferable? Would we dare bring such an argument before the parents of a dead child? The most honest argument against naloxone that I've ever heard came from a young man who said, "But doctor, what is the advantage of saving these people?" "These people." I have no response to this argument.

Only heroes like Chrystal Beinlich, Lea Minalga, Mary Jo Capone, Jody Daitchman, and Michelle Hines can tell the world that "these people" are our people. They are our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and friends.

The new Narcan law will allow anyone to carry naloxone and use it in a suspected overdose. I urge parents to ask their doctor for a prescription for Narcan and keep it available. All parents want their children to be drug-free, but the first priority must be to keep the children alive.

Sarz Maxwell

Medical Director

Chicago Recovery Alliance