Peoria mom who lost 2 kids to drug addiction now working to save others' lives

PEORIA, AZ - Every day is hard, but for a mother who has lost two children to heroin — Mother's Day is very different.

We introduced you to Peoria resident Michelle Hamby last year. She was already working to get HB 2355 passed after her daughter's death to addiction in 2013.

That bill focused on allowing pharmacists to give Naloxone (a drug that helps opioid-related overdose) to a family member or community member without a prescription.

"Narcan is for opioid overdoses only," Hamby explained. "It takes the opioid off the brain receptors."

But, in the midst of her fight to get that bill heard in 2016  her son's life was also taken by heroin. Just three days after his death, Hamby noticed the bill was not on the legislative agenda.

"I called and called and called and called senators and begged them to put it on the agenda," Hamby told ABC15 in 2016.

Her efforts paid off and lawmakers voted unanimously to pass it.

"It was the first happy tears I had had in days," Hamby had said.

It has been one year now since Governor Doug Ducey signed that bill into law.

According to the nonprofit Sonoran Prevention Works it has given 720 children a second chance at life.

"It definitely makes sense, that's why we wanted it to be passed," Hamby said. "But, absolutely I'm shocked and I know there's more."

The nonprofit has passed out more than 8,000 free naloxone kits since September 2016 and Hamby is also now one of those distributors.

But, opponents of the bill in the first place had doubts about this. They were worried something like this would promote drug use.

Hamby strongly disagrees saying, "Narcan is not a treatment. It's a lifesaver," Hamby said. "You are giving it to someone who is dead and bringing them back."

The other argument from opponents is that the costs for it are too high.

While medics have been administering the drug for years, this now means first responder agencies can train many more people, especially police officers and deputies on how to administer the drug as they are usually the first ones who get to an emergency.

Some departments have cited concerns about the cost of the drug.

Pharmacists ABC15 contacted by in 2016 said they were still waiting on direction from the Pharmacy Review Board on how to go about administrering this to their clients.

One pharmacist said costs of the nasal spray version could run from $30 - $120, with the injection version costing hundreds of dollars.

Proponents said they were working to make the drug more affordable.

But, Hamby said Sonoran Prevention Works is giving out these narcan kits through a grant right now.

She plans to continue distributing it to her community — passing on whatever knowledge and compassion she can offer.

"If I could save one life, my children's deaths would not be in vain," Hamby said.

 

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