Area Residents Talk of Heroin Heartbreak at NARCAN Program

BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT) – The statistics were enlightening and the stories were heart-rendering at Monday night’s NARCAN Awareness Program in Brockway.

The event, organized by the Brockway Block Parents and sponsored by the Clearfield-Jefferson Drug & Alcohol Commission and Penn Highlands Healthcare, gave an area health care professional, Kim Cicion, a registered Medical-Surgical Nurse and Certified Emergency Nurse with Penn Highlands, the chance to show people how the medication can be used to reverse the effects of opioid-induced overdoses.

While event organizer Tammy Stansell, of Brockway Block Parents, was disappointed with the turnout, about a dozen in attendance left with a dose of NARCAN.

“We had 53 sign up, so the attendance is not what we would have liked. Most people don’t think it can happen to them or their families, but that’s not true,” Stansell said. “It has nothing to do with your economic standing.”

It also gave a few individuals the chance to share their difficult stories of family members who are battling heroin addiction.

For Cicion, she is a Johnstown native who worked at Conemaugh Memorial Hospital before coming to work at Penn Highlands DuBois.

She had some remarkable statistics illustrating the effects of the opioid epidemic that is taking its toll all across the state of Pennsylvania and the nation.

“Since the beginning of the year, there have been 10 overdose reversals in Jefferson and Clearfield counties,” Cicion said.

“Most have been done by police officers, and I give them a lot of credit for that because when I first started talking about it, a lot of them thought I was crazy. But, they’ve have really come around.”

She also shared a statistic from a survey in Elk County that seven percent of the students in eighth grade admitted to trying heroin or knowing someone who had tried it.

She also talked about her former hospital, Conemaugh Memorial, experiencing 20 overdoses the previous weekend with two deaths.

“It was mostly the same type of stamp bag that was associated with the overdoses. The addicts are willing to roll the dice even knowing it could kill them,” Cicion said.

She talked about some of the myths and truths about NARCAN.NARCAN nasal spray

A NARCAN pen costs nearly $1,000, Epi pens are two for $600 and a vial of Epi and draw it up in a syringe for under $10. The nasal Narcan is two doses for about $75.

It can be injected or used as a nasal spray.

“With the 10 reversals we’ve had, there hasn’t been one person wake up who has been combative. In the ER, it is different because we are completely reversing the affects of the drug.”

“It’s also important to roll the person over on their side, so they don’t aspirate (choke) when they spit up. This is how most people die in an overdose,” Cicion said.

Cicion talked about people using NARCAN to treat an overdose before police or other emergency responders arrive on the scene.

“Act 139 allows citizens to help someone and provide them with immunity if it turns out the incident wasn’t an overdose, but instead a heart attack or seizure.”

“But, people do have to call 911,” Cicion said. “They just can’t give the NARCAN and walk away.”

Two area residents spoke of their families’ battles against heroin addiction.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a Brockway woman, the mother of an eight-year-old boy, talked about how her ex-husband died of an heroin overdose while the child, who was five at the time, was in his care for a night.

“I never knew he was addicted,” she said. “Even though we weren’t together, he was a great dad, he was involved, he had a good job at the glass plant, he never showed the signs.”

She also spoke of how, even more than three years later that she didn’t know he was addicted.

“Do you think I like taking my boy to the cemetery, so he can be near his dad? He still doesn’t know how his dad died. Someday I will tell him, but he doesn’t need to know that now.”

Another woman from Elk County spoke of the heartbreak and frustration that her family has dealt with over the years as her nephew and his wife have battled addiction.

“They are educated, had good jobs, but not now. They think they are invincible, they can do anything,” the Elk County woman said. “My sister is 50 years old, and she is raising two grandkids by herself. Her husband committed suicide because he couldn’t continue to deal with it anymore.”

“So many people think it can’t happen to them, but it can, and it does.”

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