Underground operation to revive heroin users

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(KTVI)-- We`re going to take you inside an underground movement to stop heroin deaths in St. Louis.  What you`re about to see is illegal in Missouri, but the man behind it says it`s a crusade worth risking jail.

It happens in secrecy, but the people involved say it should not.  They`re illegally giving out a heroin antidote called Narcan. Recovering addict Chad Sabora has a secret unlimited supply.  Police and prosecutors say we are not breaking the law witnessing what he's doingand they're interested in what's emerging from the shadows.

We caught up with Sabora in an alleyway in South St. Louis where he handed out Narcan to a group of people, "You`ve seen the 1 cc vials before.  Most of us have been woken up by this."

He educated them on how to inject it.  Sabora said, "It goes in the arm, the butt or the thigh. It can go right through the clothes. Stay with them, but always call 911."

Sabora gives Narcan to addicts and the people who love them.  He explained to the group, "The only purpose of this drug is to clean your opiate receptors. That`s all it does."

He warns, the person you save may be dangerous, because they'll be in immediate heroin withdrawal.  Sabora added, "Expect them to be pissed. You`re going to wake up dope sick, depending on how much you gave them... you know, you just died, so you`re not going to be in the right state of mind."

Like Steven Zichler who told me, "When I woke up in the hospital, I`d been unconscious in the hotel for like 20 hours. The maids found me, called an ambulance, took me to DePaul hospital where they hit me with the Narcan, woke me up."

Sabora said "Who are we to judge who should live and die?"

Sabora is breaking ground in St. Louis, but similar projects are accepted in other states, like Illinois.

Sabora told a group, "I will inject myself with it to show you how harmless it is."

He says someone saved him with Narcan and now he`s been clean more than two years.

Sabora told the group, before injecting himself, "You`ve see this on the television beforeand the doctors done it. You want to make sure that there`s no air bubbles... like you`re at the doctor`s officeand you inject itand that`s it."

He emphasized, "You have to always call 911 after you administer this.  If the EMTs comeand you`re in Missouri and you`ve shot them up with Narcan, odds are they`re not going to call the cops and arrest you. Odds are they`re going to say thank you because you saved somebody`s life."

Deena Stags watches through tears.

She said, "I wish that I would`ve had that drug available to me 6 months ago."
Reporter Chris Hayes responded, "You think you could`ve done something."
Stags answered, "Absolutely. The person right here, he would still be alive."

Michelle Hummert is getting Narcan in case she has to save her addicted brother. She`s already lost her Cousin, Nick.

As Hummert sat next to her Aunt she said, "It`s been a rough road for our whole family really. Everybody`s touched by it. My brother also lost one of his best friends that made this t-shirt and his year just passed us of his death-anniversary if you will."

Sabora explained, "We`re not enabling drug use here. We`re just giving people the chance to find recovery."

It saved Chad -- and he has saved others.  So has Steven, who told described a deathbed visit that should reminds us this is about more than the addicts.  He said, "My daughter came in the room, and she`s 17 now, and she came in and said you know Dad, I don`t care what`s going on, I just need you to be in my life."

Chad Sabora just started a Narcan Facebook page called the Osiris Project - https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Osiris-Project/594121890625450

Missouri man is first published case of flesh eating heroin in US

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6 comments

  • James Garber

    You are a real hero my friend . I would love to help in some way . Hit me up. Lost my precious niece heather 2 yrs ago . Still crying . If I could help save a few lives and hearts maybe mine could heal . I have ideas

  • Diane Burgess French

    Chad Sabora has helped many people, this is the opposite of Dr Kavorkian. He helps people save their loved one from this horrible disease that is killing our youth. Just having access to this antidote your baby might live to see their 18, 19th birthday or even younger. I live with a grandson who is a heroin addict and wish I had some, I have found him and another young boy 14 and 15 yrs old unconscious and the police took one hour to come and 911(ambulance) never came,and I live in St.Charles County. I actually lived in Wentzville and had to wait for S.Charles because we lived in unincorporated area, Wentzville wouldn’t come and they didn’t send an ambulance!! They were drug addicts, no hurry!

  • steve castleman

    Addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease. It’s treatable. Perhaps not as successfully as one might like, but on a par with other chronic diseases that require substantial behavioral change, like diabetes and hypertension.

    Unfortunately, many people still don’t believe addiction is a disease. That’s why science-based education is so important.

    For a not-for-profit website that discusses the science of substance use and abuse in accessible English (how alcohol and drugs work in the brain; how addiction develops; why addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease; what parts of the brain malfunction as a result of substance abuse; how that malfunction skews decision-making and motivation, resulting in addict behaviors; why some get addicted while others don’t; how treatment works; how well treatment works; why relapse is common; what family and friends can do; etc.) please click on http://www.AddictScience.com.

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