'My child was deceased for a moment:' Opioid crisis hits close to home for one mom
Mom speaks out after daughter OD'd, was saved by Narcan
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – The mother of a young woman saved by Narcan last month while cameras were rolling spoke to WKMG-TV, showing how the opioid crisis in Orange County is real and a true epidemic.
"My child was deceased for a moment," Chandy Cooper said. "I mean, this is a real problem and people need to open their eyes to it and stop being so judgmental."
Around 2:30 p.m. on July 10, in front of the Orange County jail, Cooper's was daughter was dropped off out front, not breathing, her body lifeless. That was until Orange County Corporal Bryan James administered Narcan, after which point the woman opened her eyes and came back to life.
It was a moment Cooper doesn't doubt has happened before with her daughter, but it was the first time she'd seen it herself.
"It was scary, especially when she sat right up," Cooper said. "I was scared for her and I wanted to believe her that this was just a slip-up." Cooper says her daughter, who she doesn't want to identify, has been battling a drug addiction since she was 13 years old. She said it started with alcohol and progressed from there.
"She started using and one thing that led to another, that led to another, and throughout that process, we did start to understand that she has a mental illness, and I'm a firm believer she has an underlying issue," Cooper said.
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The mother, desperate for help, even reached out and was on Anderson Cooper's syndicated talk show "Anderson Live" back in 2012.
"Throughout the years, I've always felt like it couldn't get much worse, that it's going to get better, or I seek out the help for her, and I've always had hope," she said.
But for this mom, hope is dissipating.
Cooper says since then, her daughter has been in and out of jail three times on drug and prostitution charges. In fact, Cooper says her daughter was released from jail just days before she had overdosed in front of WKMG-TV's cameras.
"Had it not been for that deputy, she would not be here today," Cooper added.
Unfortunately, though, Cooper says her daughter's near-death experience hasn't stopped her from using.
"It happened again, eight days later in my bathroom at my house," Cooper said.
Cooper says she understands here is controversy with the anti-overdose drug Narcan and believes people judge, unknowing of how torturing opioid and heroin addiction can be.
"This is an illness," the mom said. "They don't want to be addicts. They don't want to use. They do it because they can't stop. It's a disease."
Cooper believes there are just not enough resources to help people break free from that disease.
"In this county, there is not enough help for people without insurance," she said. "People just turn a blind eye to it."
However, battling the opioid epidemic in Orange County is a priority for Mayor Teresa Jacobs, a county spokesperson said.
Last year, Orange County formed the Orange County Heroin Task Force, which made a list of 37 recommendations of ways to help beat the opioid epidemic in the county.
Some of those recommendations are already in place, such as supplying every deputy in the county with Narcan. That's a direct result of what saved Cooper's daughter's life last month. The county also says a priority would be to fight for more funding to supply more detox beds.
Read the Orange County Heroin Task Force recommendations here.
Also this week, Orange County officials will be launching a new website designed to help families better navigate through local services. According to a county spokesperson, the site helps families understand what is available to them in terms of local treatment options, what are treatment options, how and where to get Narcan and even what to do in an emergency.
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