CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – An effort to teach Tri-Cities children how to help overdose victims has received national attention.
Over the weekend the New York Times reported on Carter County Drug prevention teaching children how to reverse an overdose by administering Narcan.
Narcan is a nasal spray that can stop an opioid overdose from being fatal.
The Kitchens family is teaching their seven-year-old son, Nash, how to use the life-saving spray because they have seen what addiction can do first hand.
“I almost lost my business, my family, my everything,” said Erik Kitchens who struggled with addiction for years.
“I was in active addiction for a long time and I was high functioning until I wasn’t, but I’ve been clean and sober for almost three years now. It all became very clear one Sunday morning, March 27th, 2017, and she’s like ‘Do you want us, or do you want rehab,’ and I was freaked out but ultimately I went in the right direction,” Kitchens said with his wife Kelly by his side.
“We know statistics tell us that children are first introduced to drugs and tobacco as young as elementary school,” said Kelly.
That’s why Eric and Kelly are teaching their seven-year-old son, Nash, how to reverse an overdose by administering Narcan.
“If my son at seven-years-old can be at the four front of change in our area then that’s all empowering to me,” said Erik.
Carter County Drug Prevention has had Narcan training classes for children in places of work, the public library, and are integrating the training into other classes like babysitting seminars.
“It’s very simple and its something we think anyone at any age can do, and you simply just spray,” said Jilian Reece, the Carter County Drug Prevention Director.
Reece is hoping Narcan training will become a part of basic first aid.
“We defiantly have had some resistance to teaching younger kids about Narcan, but my kids live in this community and every day I see that their peers are struggling with parents that are addicted or struggling themselves, and so in my personal opinion there’s going to be some trauma associated with giving Narcan of course, but that trauma is less than the trauma of losing a parent,” said Reece.
She says it only takes about 15 minutes to teach someone how to administer Narcan.
Right now, how to use Narcan is not being taught at schools.
Carter County Schools do have Narcan in all of their schools for nurses to administer if necessary.
The Kitchens family says all of their children have Narcan training as a measure of percussion for their family and their community.
“It’s not inviting it in, it’s a tool and we should use every tool we have available to us to fix this because ignoring it doesn’t make it go away,” said Erik Kitchens.