HAPPY VALLEY, Ore. (KOIN) -- Perhaps no one understands the life-saving effects of Narcan better than Kyle Rochez. The 26-year-old told KOIN 6 News naloxone -- Narcan's proper generic name -- literally brought him back from the dead.
"Just last year I lost my life. And I was pronounced dead," said Rochez, who is now a recovery mentor with the group Need 4 Narcan. "If it wasn't for Narcan and the stuff that we're handing out here today, I wouldn't have been alive."
Rochez said he is passionate about helping other young people overcome addiction and make it out on the other side of this deadly epidemic of fentanyl misuse.
Saturday he was with others at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Happy Valley at a pop-up Need 4 Narcan event, designed to shed light on the epidemic and get the rescue drug in more hands.
Earlier this month, the Oregon Health Authority announced drug overdose deaths more than double last year due to fentanyl misuse and they believe that trend will continue.
Oregon state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger said, "We are seeing a critical need for naloxone as many communities experience dramatic increases in overdoses due to fentayl misuse."
Organizers of the event told KOIN 6 News they handed out about 150 boxes of Narcan, boxes that have the potential to save lives.
“This isn't the drug epidemic from the '70s and the '80s," said Need 4 Narcan Director Michele Stroh. "Kids shouldn't die from making one choice, and these pills are killing these children instantaneously.”
One pill can kill, a fact Stroh knows all too well. She lost her son, Keaton, to a fentanyl overdose years ago.
As a director for the non-profit, Stroh has made it her mission to educate the community on the life-saving effects of naloxone, a drug that can temporarily reverse an opioid overdose and possibly prevent fentanyl poisoning.
“We've seen our addiction cases skyrocket, especially since COVID," she said. "With the introduction of the fake, illicit fentanyl causing fentanyl poisonings, we’re losing 300 plus a day across our country and this is bigger than any type of car accident or gun violence.”
The pop-up event did more than just pass out boxes of Narcan. There was also addiction resources, training on how to use Narcan and do CPR and other training efforts.
Beautiful Savior's Pastor John Durkin said this is an issue that everyone should join.
“All faith communities can be a part of, and on the front lines of, raising awareness for what's going on in people's lives and households," Durkin told KOIN 6 News. "One in 10 families are struggling with addiction. How can we be a part of that solution?”
Stroh said she believes the event was a success. But with fentanyl and fake pills on the rise and continuing to claim lives, more education and warnings are needed.
“We are finding fentanyl down in Adderall, they found fentanyl in Tylenol, now they're finding it in marijuana," she said. "So at this point in time, if you're not buying from your pharmacist or your marijuana distributor don't buy it. Your life is going to depend on it at this point because it's everywhere.”
Having Narcan is not just for people who use opioids or family members of those who are addicted, Stroh said. Everyone should have it on hand because you never know what it might be necessary to save a life.
Most pharmacies sell Narcan without the need of a prescription.