Opinion: It’s too late to save my son’s life, but this drug can save others

My Patient Rights | Stay Informed | Opinion: It’s too late to save my son’s life, but this drug can save others

Opinion: It’s too late to save my son’s life, but this drug can save others

By Jodi Barber
The Sacramento Bee
February 10, 2019

In 2010, my 19-year-old son, Jarrod, died in my house, right in my living room. He died because of an accidental opioid overdose. There was nothing my husband and I could do to save him, other than to call 911 and pray.

Our prayers ended in coming home from the hospital and having to tell Jarrod’s brother, Blake, that his only brother would never return. Had I known about naloxone – had I known that you should have it in your medicine cabinet – I might have been able to save my son.

According to knowthedanger.com, “Naloxone, often known by its brand name Narcan, is an effective, non-addictive medication that reverses an opioid overdose. Within minutes of it being administered, the affected person is able to breathe again.”

Living with having not known that is unimaginable for me as a mother.

My only way of dealing with Jarrod’s death has been to become fully immersed in the issue of opioid overdose and deaths, and to work every day to make sure we bring an end to this epidemic.

I directed two documentaries — “Overtaken” and “Overtaken 2” — which deal with the opioid epidemic. I have shown them to community-based organizations, corporations and at high schools.

Last year, the California Legislature took bold and much-needed action toward addressing the opioid epidemic that we’re experiencing on both the national and state level. It’s so important that doctors and other prescribers know about this. But it’s also critical that you and I know, too.

Assembly Bill 2760 – authored by Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) – is now law. This law states that anyone who prescribes pain-relieving opioids to a high-risk patient must also offer a prescription for naloxone. There are a few other states in the U.S. that have passed co-prescribing legislation, but we must demand the rest of the country do the same.

Co-prescribing legislation ensures that we can make a huge dent in needless, accidental overdose deaths. As Jarrod’s mom, I cannot stress enough how important it is that we as parents, and our children, are aware of this. If you or a loved one are prescribed an opioid, you need to be aware of this co-prescription, and you need to have a conversation with your doctor about naloxone. It could be life-saving.

It’s impossible to describe the depth of pain I feel from losing Jarrod. Every day, I try to make sense of this tragedy. I feel it’s my duty and my calling to work on behalf of my son’s memory — and all of the children, teens and adults who lose their lives every 12 and-a-half minutes to opioid overdose.

We have fire extinguishers in our homes. We have EpiPens in our purses. Even our U.S. surgeon general issued the first advisory in 13 years, recommending emergency overdose treatments, like naloxone, be available for consumer use.

Naloxone won’t solve the opioid epidemic alone. But naloxone will save lives. We cannot continue to lose thousands of lives every day. This co-prescribing legislation is a very important step toward a greater solution.

Jodi and her husband live in Laguna Niguel, California. You can find out more about her work and her documentaries at overtakenlives.org.
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