Health Department Releases "I Saved a Life" Awareness Campaign

Campaign features stories of six New Yorkers who have used naloxone to save the lives of family members, friends and neighbors

May 22, 2017 — As part of HealingNYC, the Health Department today released the “I Saved a Life” awareness campaign to promote naloxone, which can reverse an opioid overdose. Last year, New Yorkers used naloxone to save approximately 400 lives. The “I Saved a Life” awareness campaign features stories of six New Yorkers who have used naloxone to save the lives of family members, friends, neighbors and others. These efforts build upon the City’s ongoing work through HealingNYC, the $38 million initiative to reduce opioid overdose deaths by 35 percent over five years. HealingNYC also includes increasing naloxone distribution and community-based trainings, expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and promoting judicious opioid prescribing.

“Opioid overdose deaths can be avoided with naloxone,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “I thank Billy, Brian, Evelyn, Shantae, Theresa and Will for sharing their powerful stories about using naloxone to save a life. We hope they inspire New Yorkers to keep naloxone on hand in case a friend or loved one overdoses.”

The “I Saved a Life” (PDF) awareness campaign uses powerful stories to increase awareness about naloxone and encourage New Yorkers to learn more about it:

I saved a life
  • I Saved My Neighbor’s Life: “My neighbor’s boyfriend knocked on my door at 2 a.m. and told me she was overdosing. I got to the apartment and found her passed out. I gave her naloxone and in a few minutes she started coming through. It was lucky I was home and had naloxone to save her.” ~Billy, Manhattan

  • I Saved My Father’s Life: “I got trained in overdose prevention after I spent four years in the Army. One night at home, my dad fell out of bed. He wasn’t breathing and he had turned blue. I knew he had used heroin before. I grabbed my naloxone and gave it to him. After a few minutes, he started breathing again and he came out of it. That was a life-changing moment for both of us.” ~Brian, Queens

  • I Saved My Neighbor’s Life: “I took a different way home from work one night and found my neighbor on the ground. He was blue and not breathing. I gave him naloxone, which I always carry, and in two minutes he was breathing again. As we waited for the ambulance, it hit me that if I hadn’t come home this way, his family would be getting a very different phone call that night.” ~Evelyn, Manhattan

  • I Saved My Best Friend’s Life: “I’ve had one best friend I could always rely on. A few years ago, we were hanging out. He looked like he was falling asleep. I shook him to wake him up but couldn’t. He was overdosing. I gave him a dose of naloxone and he came back. Today, I still have my best friend.” ~Shantae, Bronx

  • I Saved My Fiancé’s Life: “My fiancé was addicted to heroin and prescription pills. One night I came home from holiday shopping and found him lying on the bathroom floor. His lips were blue, his skin was gray. I called 911, grabbed my naloxone and gave him a dose. If I didn’t have naloxone, he would have died that night.” ~Theresa, Manhattan

  • I Saved My Friend’s Life: “I found my friend slumped on her bed turning blue. She couldn’t breathe. I ran to get my naloxone and gave it to her. I thought she was dead. When she came to, she didn’t know what had happened or why I was crying. I’m glad I had naloxone. It gave her a second chance.” ~Will, Brooklyn

The campaign is the third part of the City’s public education campaign about overdose, which began in December 2016 with “Save a Life: Carry Naloxone (PDF),” followed by “Overdose is Preventable.”

"The six brave stories told in the new "I Saved a Life" awareness campaign represent a powerful reminder that our city is facing a serious opioid crisis, and we need to ensure we are prepared to fight back," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "Given the alarming increase in our city's opioids overdose deaths, this campaign will shed critical light on the importance of carrying Naloxone as a way to save the life of a fellow New Yorker in case of an overdose."

“We need to do everything we can to prevent opioid overdoses,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “Educating New Yorkers on naloxone and increasing the number of people who carry it will save lives.”

In 2016, more than 1,300 New Yorkers died of a drug overdose, and about 80 percent of those deaths were due to opioids, including prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. More New Yorkers die from drug overdose than homicides and motor vehicle crashes combined. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, has been driving the large increase in overdose deaths within the past year. Fentanyl has been found in heroin, cocaine and counterfeit street pills marked as Xanax®.

New Yorkers can get naloxone without a prescription at over 740 pharmacies throughout the city, including all major chain pharmacies (Walgreens, Duane Reade, Rite Aid and CVS) and at registered opioid overdose programs (PDF). Individuals seeking support or treatment for substance use issues for themselves or their loved ones can contact NYC Well by calling 1-888-NYC-WELL, texting “WELL” to 65173 or going to nyc.gov/nycwell. Free, confidential support is available at any hour of the day in over 200 languages.

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MEDIA CONTACT:Christopher Miller/Stephanie Buhle, (347) 396-4177
pressoffice@health.nyc.gov