Nelson Manager of Fairmont Park Recovery, a student at San Diego City College, and lives in Bankers Hill.
I manage a modest home in San Diego and have been 3 years away from drug addiction. About 13 years ago, I was pretty, but then I relapsed into heroin addiction. I almost died from addiction, but Narkan, the kindness of others, and a calm life saved my life.
I suffered my first near-fatal overdose on the streets of downtown San Diego in 2010 when I was 29 years old. According to paramedics, I was unconscious for about 40 minutes, dropping to 7 breaths per minute and almost going into cardiac arrest. I might not have survived if the people on the streets near 17th Street and Interstate 5 hadn’t brought Narcans and called for paramedics.
Fighting addiction is real. I ended up in the hospital emergency room about 15 times between 2009 and 2019 before finding another way out. With the help of community resources and a drug counselor known as an assessor who visits county jails and provides drug treatment to inpatients, I received intensive inpatient treatment for behavior change and learned why I was doing it. I was able to start learning what I was doing. Looking back, I was on an animal level. I was there a long time and it was very difficult to come back. I had to redo everything I was taught as a child, from brushing my teeth to learning how to converse with humans again.
After four months of inpatient treatment, I moved into a calm living home and began five months of intensive outpatient services. The Pan-Asian Communities Federation, a non-profit organization that provides health and welfare services to diverse underserved populations, provided financial support and a five-month grant when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. He helped me pay my rent. After that, I worked part-time at a temporary agency and was able to cover the rent with my own money. I’m back in school and currently starting her junior year at San Diego City His College majoring in Video Production and Film. I have come a long way in these three years of hers, and it would not have been possible without these new resources now available.
While I was still active in my addiction, the people who did the needle exchange also provided us with a box of Narkan, so almost every addict running down the street had a box on hand. I had to dose Narcan on the street several times. Seeing someone fall with their own eyes has a good chance of dying without Narkan, so it’s great that Narkan is readily available everywhere these days.
If you see someone unconscious, all you have to do is tear open the box. Each box contains two nasal vials, each containing 4 milligrams of naloxone. . Both vials can be repeatedly administered to either side of the nose until the person wakes up or emergency personnel arrive. It can stop all body functions and die without help.
In the humble house I manage, Narkan is everywhere. It’s right next to each TV in each common room, so it’s easy to reach in case of an emergency. I lived in a sober living environment, so there were a few overdoses and two deaths. I didn’t.
I don’t know where I would be today without my recovery house and support system. In my case the owner knows first hand what we went through. They configure their homes in a zero-tolerance drug environment. Residents are required to attend three meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous each week. We encourage you to follow our 12-step program, find a sponsor, and peer him as a mentor when you’re ready.
Sometimes I reflect on what caused my life to spiral out of control in the first place. How I lost my parents when I was young, how I grew up in a violent household with a distant relative who was a drug addict, and how my girlfriend at the time got pregnant unexpectedly when she was 21. are just some of the events.
I won’t look back now. I look forward to the many people who live under tarps on the streets and never get a second chance at life.