Quick action of parent and officer help save teen overdose victim

(Photo for illustration purposes) This photo shows how to administer Narcan Nasal Spray.

By Jon Johnson


SAFFORD – The quick action of a young man’s parents and a responding officer possibly saved the victim’s life from a fatal overdose of fentanyl. 

Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and is sometimes mixed in with heroin or sold by dealers in illicit form. It is also available by prescription-only.  

The incident occurred in the early morning hours of Dec. 29, 2020, when a woman heard a loud noise in the residence at about 5:30 a.m. 

The woman told the responding officer that her boyfriend went to investigate the noise and found her 17-year-old son on the bathroom floor unconscious and not breathing. 

The woman said they pulled the youth out of the bathroom toward the front door to better start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as his lips were beginning to turn blue. 

When the officer arrived, he found the doorway to the residence ajar and the boyfriend continuing to conduct CPR on the overdose victim. 

The officer then delivered a 4mg dose of Narcan to the victim. Narcan (naloxone) is an opioid antagonist that binds to opioid receptors to reverse and block the effects of opioids. 

After receiving the anti-opiate drug, the teen’s pulse returned and he began to take shallow breaths. Paramedics from Lifeline Ambulance then arrived and transported the youth to the Mt. Graham Regional Medical Center for more treatment. At the hospital, the youth was seen awake and talking with medical staff. During the interaction, he allegedly told a doctor that he had ingested fentanyl.

Narcan nasal spray was developed for use by first responders, and friends and family members of those with opiate addiction to counteract the effect and save lives from deadly overdoses.

Arizona has seen an increase of reported drug overdoses and suicides during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For those trying to stop using drugs, Awakening Recovery Center operates a full-service intensive outpatient counseling facility using abstinence-based therapies. And Canyonlands Healthcare offers medication-assisted treatments for opiate addiction locally.  

For more information on the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition, visit its website here or its Facebook page here. The coalition is currently building a sober living facility in Safford.

Those who may have thoughts about harming themselves can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for help for the local Arizona Crisis Hotline at 1-866-495-6735.   

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