National News

New program gives heroin antidote to people leaving jails

Posted January 3, 2018 1:35 p.m. EST

— The new attack on the heroin epidemic is part of a $1 billion grant from the federal government. Most of that money goes for treatment, but there's also prevention money, including money to get Narcan into the hands of people in the criminal justice system.

One of the people in St. Louis area who will administer this is Chad Sabora, with the Missouri Network Outreach Center.

"Whether or not people think it's a choice or not, I think we are way beyond that argument," Sabora said. "People are dying and we have a way to save them. And there's treatment options for them."

Sabora is a recovering addict we've featured in previous Fox Files investigations. He used to work underground, sometimes meeting people in alleyways to spread the word about Narcan. Other times he would demonstrate how easy it is to inject the drug known to clean the opiate receptors in the brain of someone overdosing.

Today he's working in the open with the blessing of the federal government. He's visiting inmates and letting them know they can get free Narcan, which sometimes goes by the generic name Naloxone.

"These are kids that are dying. We're losing an entire generation," Sabora said. "So, in my opinion, we have to do everything we can to save them, even if it was less cost effective, but actually this modality saves tax dollars."

Not only does he believe it's cheaper to treat and prevent addiction than to pay the costs associated with someone dying, but he also believes it saves money by helping addicts become productive again.

"I'm in recovery," he said. "I shot heroin for 17 years. The only crime I committed was putting a drug in my body that I wasn't supposed to. We're not all criminals. We're not all bad people, but again, the ones that are committing crimes – it's not them."

Sabora said the $1 billion federally translates to $20 million in Missouri over the next two years, with 80 percent of that money paying for free treatment.