My Story

On December 22, 2013, my only child, James Hissey, overdosed on heroin. He was with someone who witnessed the overdose and called the ambulance when he started turning blue. The EMT’s administered naloxone (Narcan) and were able to resuscitate him, and then got him to the hospital.

In early 2014 there was a brief story on the news that naloxone was being made available to family members of heroin addicts. I saw my primary care physician on April 11, 2014, and told her that I had seen that story on the news and asked how I could get a prescription for naloxone. She told me that it was a very new program and that she would need to do some research.

On Saturday, May 3, 2014, my spouse and I went out to dinner with a friend. When we got home Jim’s car was in the driveway. We went inside and saw that the bathroom door was closed. An avid reader, Jim loved reading in the bathtub and we thought that he was taking a bath. I even thought I heard the water running. After some time passed and he didn’t come out, we went to check on him. The door was locked and we couldn’t get him to answer. We called 911, but when they arrived they found that he was already dead. He wasn’t in the bath; he was on the floor with heroin needles beside him. He was gone.

I went back to my doctor in July and asked what she had learned about naloxone, and she said that it was only available to addicts and that the prescription had to be written to an addict by his or her doctor.

On August 8, 2014, I spoke to Bill Matthews from the Harm Reduction Coalition and found out the following:

  • There is a law from 2006 that allows for naloxone to be given not only to addicts, but to anyone who might witness an overdose.
  • Participants in the New York State Opioid Overdose Prevention Program can conduct training and provide Overdose Prevention Rescue Kits to addicts and to anyone who might witness an overdose.
  • Any physician or medical facility in New York can register to be a participant in the New York State Opioid Overdose Prevention Program.

On September 2, 2014, I went to the training offered by Strong Recovery through URMC, and got an Overdose Prevention Rescue Kit.

Each step and each decision we make can alter the future and I wonder if I had gotten trained back in April, if I could have saved Jimmy. Maybe I wouldn’t have gone to dinner that night; maybe I would have gotten home earlier. Those questions will haunt me, but I am powerless to change the past. However, I can try to raise awareness about the availability of naloxone. There are many points of contact where this information can be provided: EMT’s, ER’s, doctors, therapists and others. In Jim’s memory I will reach out to anyone who will hear my story. It is my hope that I can spare others the pain that I will live with forever