By KATIE NIELSEN
COTATI, California (KPIX) — The number of opioid-related deaths in California has almost tripled over the past few years. One North Bay family is trying to help stop the trend by offering community members training on how to use Narcan, which can reverse an overdose.
It’s part of the mission for Micah’s Hugs, a non-profit born from heartache.
“Insert it in her nostril and I want you to go ahead and push it. That’s it. That’s done. It’s very easy,” said Micah Sawyer as he led a training class for about a dozen people in Cotati.
“There’s such a stigma around addiction and Narcan as well, that people sort of hide and they keep it underground and they don’t want to know about it,” he says.
Sawyer learned about Narcan when his son, Micah Junior, became addicted to heroin in high school. Sawyer said his son was a star football player at Analy High in Sebastopol and was an avid weightlifter.
“People don’t realize that you can be really successful and still be an addict at the same time,” he said.
Sawyer said he bought Narcan to try to save his son if he ever overdosed, and at the time, the medication cost him $150 per box. Despite his father’s best efforts, Micah Junior died of a fentanyl overdose while at someone else’s house.
“That’s when we made it our mission to see if we could find a way to bring Narcan to people for free or a much more affordable price,” said Sawyer.
He and his wife Michelle, Micah Junior’s stepmother, founded “Micah’s Hugs,” a non-profit to help those struggling with addiction. So far they’ve received two grants from the California Department of Health Care Services of almost 4,000 boxes of Narcan to distribute to the community.
Michaela Sory was one of the people attending the training in Cotati. She lost her older brother to a fentanyl overdose in May.
“It’s happening so often that it could just be walking down the street and it’s just a random person, and they might need help also,” said Sory.
“I would love to see everybody carrying Narcan, and there’s nobody that shouldn’t be,” said Sawyer. “Anybody can come across somebody that’s having an overdose.”
There is another Narcan training session Wednesday night, Nov 30, at 7:00 p.m. at the Monte Rio Community Center at 20400 Bohemian Hwy, Monte Rio CA. There is also a session scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at Pura Vida at 130 Stony Point Rd, Suite J, Santa Rosa CA 95401. You can learn more about Micah’s Hugs at micahshugs.org.
Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.