TODAY | April 09, 2014
>>> with our nbc news special series
"hooked: america's heroin epidemic." just last week the fda approved a new form of a drug specifically for family and friends that can reverse an overdose and save lives. kate snow is here with more. good morning to you.
>> good morning again, savannah. this is currently available as a drug called nar-can. think of it like an epi-pen in case of an e ledgerallergic reaction. you carry it around in case of an overdose. it can be a shot, or this one actually a nasal spray . this one is expired. we beat a dutch-born american mom who asked us not to use her full name or show her son's face. in a moment of sheer panic, she used this to save her son from a heroin overdose . when anne heads out the door of her suburban boston home, she always has her purse. and inside the bag, a dose of nar-can. there was a time when anne had never heard of nar-can, back when she thought heroin addiction was something that happened to other people's kids.
>> you know, i had preconceptions about drug users myself. until it happened to my own family.
>> reporter: her son was 21 when he became addicted to painkillers, and then when those were too expensive, switched to heroin. after admitting to his mom that he was addicted, anne found a support group that gave her several nar-can kits.
>> where did you have it?
>> i used to have it on top of my fridge.
>> reporter: anne never imagined she'd have to use it so soon, but just three months later, her husband found their son unconscious in his bedroom.
>> my husband came into the room and he screamed and he said, he's not breathing, he's not breathing. i ran downstairs to get my package of nar-can. i administered it in his nostrils and i was just fumbling, i was so nervous, i couldn't do it.
>> reporter: were you shaking?
>> i was shaking really bad. it was just horrible. but i can't explain to myself, something takes over because there's nothing else to do. it was just hard. and as a parent, you feel very -- and i know i didn't cause it, but you feel like you failed your kid.
>> reporter: anne says her son looked dead, but they kept giving him chest compressions until the emts arrived. doctors told anne she had saved her son from permanent brain damage. she carries this photo with her now, a reminder of how close she came to losing him. until now, access to nar-can has depended on where you live. anne got hers through learn to cope, support groups all over massachusetts. the parents in your group saved 23, five just since january this year. in a back room, they teach parents how to read the signs of an overdose, put a kit together, and use a nasal spray to push nar-can into someone's nose. show of hands , how many people are here because someone they love has used heroin? pretty much everybody. how many people have nar-can in your house? wow. according to the cdc, more than 10,000 opioid overdoses have been reversed nationwide using nar-can. but while at least 18 states actually passed laws to expand access to narcan , others have resisted. in maine, only medical personnel can administer narcan . at a press conference last month, the governor was adamant family members should not have access. so do you believe that it should be distributed to parents, for example?
>> reporter: why not?
>> because it's an escape. it's an excuse to stay addicted. i think we need to -- let's deal with the treatment. the proper treatment. and not say go overdose, and by the way, if you do, i'll be there to save you.
>> with all due respect, governor, if it can save one life, why would you not support that?
>> i've said my piece on it.
>> reporter: but now a stunning reversal. tuesday the governor's office told nbc news he will now support proposed legislation to allow immediate family members to have access to narcan . for anne , having it made all the difference.
>> what we did with the narcan was the most crucial part in this. without the narcan , everything else will have fallen by the wayside. it's just nice to have a son.
>> reporter: it must be nice to have him back.
>> anne 's son is doing well now. he has a good job. anne says he is sober. as for the new fda drug, ed zrveg zio, it will be available with instructions. it talks to you, tells you how to put the shot in and it auto injects.
>> can you imagine that moment of desperation for any parent?
>> it's hard to imagine.
>> if anyone wants to see more
of this series "hooked: america's heroin epidemic," it can be found on the platforms of nbc news. really suggest you check it out.