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Heroin: From Prescription To Addiction (Part 11)

By Mary Blake, WBZ NewsRadio 1030
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(Credit: Thinkstock)

420x316-grad-blake1 Mary Blake
Mary Blake is an award-winning reporter and anchor who joined WBZ News...
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BOSTON (CBS) – One day at a time. One better choice at a time. One human life at a time. That’s how a recovery coach, and former addict now views the world. WBZ’s Mary Blake continues her week long series, “Heroin: from Prescription to Addiction.”

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake reports

Heroin: From Prescription To Addiction (Part 11)

WBZ NewsRadio 1030

“I know there’s hope. If I see somebody walking on the street right now and their life is a mess, there’s hope for them.” Kerri Ann Salemmi is a recovery coach at Revere’s weekly walk-in clinic, which is part of Revere’s Overdose Prevention and Reversal Initiative. She has been in recovery for 13 years. “I have a lot of family and a lot of friends and a lot of community members who have died from this disease,” she says.

As a child of two active addicts, Salemmi says there is grief and shame. “I was ashamed of my family, I was ashamed of myself, ya know, I thought it was my fault, and then I experienced it for myself and then I started to change my thinking,” she recalls.

Read More: Heroin From Prescription To Addiction

She describes her conversations now as honest and non-judgmental and takes heart with every success story. “You see them change their lives, and I’m talking doctors, lawyers, nurses,” she says. The walk-in center also offers training in the use of Narcan. Narcan reverses an overdose and is now being used by both police and EMT’s.

Revere Health Care Coordinator Gary Langis says while Narcan has saved countless lives, it only buys an addict 60 to 90 minutes. 911 still has to be called.

Langis also instructs walk-ins on the warning signs of an overdose. “They sound like they’re snoring, but that’s the death rattle, that’s your gasping for your last breath of air,” he explains.

Langis says rescue breathing can be a lifesaving option if Narcan isn’t available. Boston State Rep. Liz Malia knows about rescue breathing first hand. “I had an experience where I had a young man collapse on the street outside my house in Jamaica Plain, and I went out and we were able to open his airway just so he could breathe, but he was blue. It turned out, he had overdosed,” she says.

Malia has been working on legislative solutions in the battle against this epidemic.

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