A sad but avoidable end
District Attorney Jim Martin and Lehigh County Drug and Alcohol Administrator Layne Turner have announced “a very sad event” which occurred during the administration of the Blue Guardian Program.
Blue Guardian is an initiative between the district attorney, the Lehigh County Regional Intelligence and Investigation Center, county police departments and the county department of drug and alcohol.
The program attempts to use relationships between police and communities to assist addicted individuals access treatment, and to help the families of those addicted.
Blue Guardian is implemented using data obtained after officers with local police departments administer naloxone, the medication which reverses an opioid overdose.
Naloxone has been used more than 200 times per year by Lehigh County police departments.
After an overdose reversal, the individual is transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.
According to Martin, these individuals are provided the opportunity to access treatment through existing programs.
“Unfortunately, many times individuals do not accept the offered resources and return home,” Martin stated.
Blue Guardian provides a home support visit within 48-72 hours after the initial overdose reversal.
A uniformed police officer and a certified recovery specialist from Treatment Trends, a local substance abuse treatment provider, go to the home and reengage the individual or family and provide resources to both.
The ultimate goal is getting the individual into treatment and to provide resources to the person’s family.
Unfortunately, a recent home visit did not have a positive result.
Martin and Turner want to help family members in similar circumstances learn from and respond differently should they face this sort of situation in the future.
Recently, a police officer and a certified recovery specialist arrived at a residence. They spoke with the parent of an individual who had been resuscitated with naloxone.
According to Martin, the parent was not aware the adult child had been saved by naloxone.
The parent was told by the adult child that he or she had been hospitalized for an issue other than a drug overdose.
After the evening of the police and CRS home visit, the individual who had overdosed called and expressed anger at the team for going to the home and talking to the parent, with whom he or she lived.
Though additional contact between the Blue Guardian team and the parent occurred after that call, the addicted individual eventually managed to convince the parent that he or she did not have a drug problem and no assistance was needed.
The parent, who was in apparent denial about the adult child’s addiction, accepted that explanation.
Unfortunately, several days later, the parent found the adult child unresponsive in a room of their home.
The adult child died as a result of a drug overdose.
“This story illustrates the need for the Blue Guardian Program. It also demonstrates why family members must recognize that a person in the throes of drug addiction will not always tell the truth nor be willing to get treatment,” Martin said. “Family members and persons who reside with those struggling with addiction need to avail themselves of the opportunity to get help for their addicted relatives and companions and to trust the information relayed to them by representatives who are sent to assist not only addicts but those with whom they live.”
“This incident will not be a complete tragedy if even one person learns from it and gets help for someone battling addiction,” Turner added.
“We hope that we never have to issue a release like this again,” said both Martin and Turner.