I am writing in support of L.D. 1686, “An Act to Address Preventable Deaths from Drug Overdose.”

The anti-opioid naloxone has been proven to save lives when it is put in the hands of first responders and responsible family members. It can reverse a narcotic overdose.

Studies in California and Massachusetts suggest that the extreme unpleasantness of the sudden naloxone reversal actually increases the chance that addicts will enter rehabilitation.

Attorney General Eric Holder urged March 10 that all first responders be equipped with naloxone and noted the drug has saved more than 10,000 lives since 2001.

Naloxone is safe and so effective in saving lives that the Food and Drug Administration is considering making it available over the counter, but not for at least two or three years. Meanwhile, more than 100 Maine families will begin to live the unthinkable every year. Envision the unthinkable.

My wife, Kathy, and I lost our 21-year-old son, Will, to a heroin overdose five years ago when he was in college. Not a day, not an hour goes by that we do not think of him.

Time supposedly heals, but the loss of a child is different. It is a hole in your heart, a chasm that never heals. I would give my very soul for the opportunity to go back to March 23, 2009, when Will’s roommates found his unresponsive but still-warm body, and equip them with naloxone.

Attorney General Holder also spoke March 10 in support of “The Opiate Effect” – https://vimeo.com/41741770 – a short documentary based on William’s death.

Our legislators are in a position to save more than 100 Maine families every year from having to live the unthinkable. They have the power to make this choice. I hope and pray that they have the courage and the empathy to do so.

Henry “Skip” Gates

Skowhegan