The Critical Need of Fentanyl Awareness and Naloxone Access

As highlighted in our previous blog posts, HarborPath is working to increase access and awareness of the life-saving medication naloxone for those who need most. We reached a momentous milestone in these efforts last month through the creation of the Naloxone Plus campaign with Operation UNITE, funded by a $1 million grant from the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission.

Ken Trogdon —

While it is critical that we continue to advocate for affordable access to naloxone, we must also stay diligent in spreading awareness of why individuals should have it on hand in their homes and gathering places.

I was reminded of the importance of awareness through a conversation earlier this week with Parents for Safer Children. This California-based nonprofit was formed by Dr. Laura Berman and Samuel Chapman following the death of their son Sammy.

A high school student with terrific grades, loving parents and hopes of attending NYU, Sammy died of a drug overdose in his home after buying drugs from a predatory dealer on Snapchat. Sammy, who thought he was purchasing Xanax, instead took a pill laced with illicit fentanyl. His parents found him unconscious and without breath on the floor of his bedroom.

Sammy's heartbreaking story shows us the reality of drugs in the United States. The rapid rise of fentanyl in our country is putting Americans of all ages at risk of accidental overdose.

Determined to save lives of other children and prevent fellow parents from experiencing their pain, Laura and Samuel created Parents for Safer Children to spread awareness of the dangers of unmonitored social media and advocate for policies and accountability for companies like Snapchat whose algorithms created opportunities for online drug dealers to target children.

Many of us assume that the opioid and fentanyl crisis can only target those addicted to hard street drugs. In reality, the spread of fentanyl and ease of purchasing off-market drugs puts millions of Americans in danger.

Like many other loved ones impacted by the drug overdose epidemic, Laura and Samuel assumed this type of tragedy couldn't happen to them. As they advocate for awareness of social media drug dealing to children, their work also reinforces the importance of educating citizens on the need to have naloxone at arm's length.

Having naloxone on-hand your home, glove box or purse could make all the difference should an accidental overdose occur to other teens. Given as a nasal spray, naloxone blocks the opioid's effects on the brain and helps provide additional time for paramedics to arrive. It's proven to save lives - if it's available.

I'm grateful for the courage of Laura and Samuel to share their family’s story. Their work in spreading awareness of hidden fentanyl targeted to teens will undoubtedly save lives.

In similar fashion, HarborPath is continuing to advocate for opportunities to make naloxone free to communities and individuals who may need it. We are developing programs that allow the families of teens to acquire free naloxone to keep on hand. These efforts would also include emergency naloxone kits for areas like schools, concert venues, convenience stores and more.

Please join us in these efforts to spread awareness on the dangers of hidden fentanyl and critical need for accessible naloxone. Talk to your children and friends about Sammy’s story. These are meaningful conversations we must have to save lives.