DAYTON, Ky. – Should heroin addicts have to pay for the Narcan used to revive them?
You might not think Mary Day would be in favor, but she is.
"If it hadn't been for Narcan, I wouldn't be here," the addict struggling with recovery says.
It’s a question being raised around the country as cities and towns large and small wrestle with how the heroin epidemic is draining their resources.
A Dayton city council member floated the idea this month.
First responders are seeing the same people overdose time and time again. EMTs serving Northern Kentucky say they sometimes know who they're saving just by the address.
Why shouldn’t addicts pay? Yeah, why not, says Day, who needed two doses to recover from her last overdose.
"I think it's a great idea. I mean, I wouldn't mind paying for what saved my life," Day told WRTV sister station WCPO.
Her reasoning is simple.
"I think when a person gets better and continues that treatment and has their disease at a standing point, it would be good for us to be able to give back what was so freely given to us," said Day.
Day, who is in recovery for the seventh time, is not at that point yet. She says she has been clean less than three weeks.
The Fire Department of Bellevue-Dayton in Kentucky is one of those small-town agencies being overwhelmed by the costs of heroin runs.
"For this month, we already made nine, so we're averaging one a day," said Capt. Chris Adkins, the EMS coordinator.
It has cost them more than $6,500 since January compared to a little more than $1,000 this time last year.
“You would get one dose of Narcan and that would pretty much reverse the effects,” said Adkins. But that was before fentanyl and other synthetic opiods came along. Now it’s not uncommon to give five doses.
“Our protocol says we stop at five doses, which is 10 milligrams," Adkins said.
Each dose costs $40, the fire chief says.
But Adkins say charging addicts for Narcan may not help if they don’t have the money to pay.
"You get people that are living two, three people in a one-, two-bedroom apartment, people that are squatting, so even if you did bill them more, I'm not sure that the outcome would be any better,” he said.
Sandi Kuehn, president and CEO of the Center for Addiction Treatment, agrees.
"I think the reality is most people who are going to be revived by EMT are not going to have the resources to pay that pay, so it would be an effort in futility," Kuehn said.