In the devastating opioid crisis that has taken over the country, one California woman is going above and beyond to keep addicts safe from over dosing. Tracy Helton is known as the “heroine of heroin” on social media because she often counsels those addicted to drugs and will even send them a generic version of the life-saving drug Narcan called naloxone through the mail. Though what Helton is doing isn’t exactly legal, she feels that with all of the lives she has saved she will not stop giving away the drug any time soon.
CNN reports about Helton’s program she quietly runs from her home computer, surrounded by her three children, cats and the family dog. The now 47 year old knows firsthand the dangers of drug overdose and suffered as a heroin addict from the ages of 18 to 28. Helton nearly died several times from overdoses until she got and stayed sober.
And now, Helton sees her good deeds of giving out naloxone as a way of giving back to those still struggling with the disease. Former addict Ryan Coleman is one of the heroin users that Helton can count as just one of the 238 lives saved (that she knows of) by the naloxone she sent through the mail.
Back in 2013, Helton began speaking to Coleman in a sub-reddit for opioid users and after gathering his information was able to send him a dose of naloxone that would save his life nearly a year later. He tucked it away in his sock drawer after letting his roomate know how to use it just in case. He is now clean and sober and knows he owes his life to what Helton does. Coleman is now in recovery and getting ready to train to be an addiction recovery empowerment specialist. He explains how Helton saved his life, “Tracey saved my life. And I’m doing pretty awesome.” He adds, “I was in serious,active addiction for 15 years. Everyone thought I was beyond hope for a long time. I want everyone to know that if I can recovery, anyone--as long as they’re still breathing--can find recovery, too.”
And Helton is just one person that wants to keep addicts breathing. She explains that when she begins speaking to addicts online she encourages them to seek out Narcan locally, but if it is not available or too expensive she gladly sends the drug through the mail. Though she knows what she is doing, sending a prescription drug through the mail, is illegal she doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. She says, “I feel like the law is wrong, so it’s an act of civil disobedience. Plus, I’m sort of an old punk rocker who doesn’t follow the rules.”
Do you think Narcan should be more readily available to opioid users?
What do you think of what Tracey Helton is doing for heroin users?
I think Tracey is a great person and an example to everyone. You can't just "cold turkey" from heroin, it can kill you. Same with pain meds. It should be given to people trying to change their lives for the better.
As someone that has seen the horrible effects that Heroin has on individuals and families, I think having access to this drug is responsible, and should be readily available. Unlike popular opinion, most drug addicts do NOT want to be addicted. They are prisoners to an illness. This becomes out of their control. This becomes even worse if they have a dual diagnosis with mental healthy issues. I like her grass roots outlook on this. Basically, ignoring or blaming the problem will not make it go away. Drug addiction is a community, social, family problem. Anyone that thinks otherwise is ignorant. Sometimes it's that one chance these people have to turn their lives around, to get the help they so readily need. Are you willing to deprive someone of their son/daughter? Mother/Father? I think Tracey is on the right track. Good for her.
I'm sorry, I know this is going to sound terrible, but if someone overdoses on heroin maybe they don't deserve to be revived. These addicts don't want to stop using and they're finding someone that wants to just give them a drug that will keep them alive after an overdose; this isn't helping anything. Its just giving these people the OK to get high and feel fine with the fact that they are.