News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Drug To Reverse Opioid Overdoses Is Legal In Texas, But It's Tough To Find

Lauren Silverman

Lindsey Davidson says finding heroin is Texas easy; finding the drug to reverse an overdose, that’s hard.

“There is only one place in Texas to get Naloxone for free, and that’s in Austin. Completely inaccessible to people who live in DFW.”

Davidson, who’s a registered nurse, was interested in the medicine because of her older sister.

“She’s been an IV heroin addict for about a little more than twenty years,” Davidson says. “I know that she doesn’t have access to stuff like this.”

This “stuff” is almost magic. Like an EpiPen reverses a severe allergic reaction, Naloxone — also known as Narcan — can wake someone from an opioid overdose and get them breathing again. It’s effective with heroin and painkillers such as fentanyl and oxycodone.

Those prescription drugs have become increasingly popular in Texas, and so have deadly overdoses. Growing up in Plano, Davidson knew heroin wasn’t just a street drug for the down and out.

“By the time I graduated high school I had lost five friends to heroin-related overdoses,” She says. “I knew Plano had a huge problem, but what I think what a lot of people fail to realize is there’s still a huge problem.”

In 2014, more than a thousand people in Texas died of opioid-related overdoses, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Opioid Overdoses In Texas
Create line charts
Lindsey Davidson finally got in contact with a national nonprofit called The Harm Reduction Coalition and convinced them to send her Naloxone. She created a Facebook page and says people interested in getting the emergency drug started reaching out to her; mothers in the suburbs who’ve gone from painkillers to heroin, brothers concerned about their siblings, husbands and wives worried about their kids.

One by one, she started training them to use it.","_id":"00000174-20e2-d47e-a1f7-72e74a630000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">" target="_blank" title="Share link">","_id":"00000174-20e2-d47e-a1f7-72e74a630000","_type":"035d81d3-5be2-3ed2-bc8a-6da208e0d9e2"}">

Naloxone can be given in the muscle, like the thigh, or into the nose as a nasal mist. It’s simple enough for most people to administer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the use of naloxone kits by laypeople reversed at least 26,463 overdoses between 1996 and June 2014. But it can be expensive. That’s why Davidson wants to make it available for free. She knows the drug isn’t the cure for an addiction, but it is a simple tool to save lives. It’s a tool she hopes her sister has.

“The last we heard, [my sister] got on a greyhound bus to go to Nebraska. I’m hoping she’s somewhere in Nebraska, safe. But I am really glad I’m able to get these out to a lot of people but I’m not sure where my sister is right now.”

She says North Texas community needs this, but not enough people know it exists or where to get it.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.