BRISTOL, TN (WJHL) – Nearly 180 people in Sullivan County died from substance abuse between the years of 2009 and 2014 making it the highest rate in our region.
“He started with the painkillers and it just progressed from there,” Coffey said.
Rhonda Coffey’s 33-year-old David suffered an ankle injury and he started taking painkillers turning into a 15 year addiction.
In July 2015, he was on vacation with a friend in Pigeon Forge but never returned to his hotel.
“Through a series of trying to find him and contacting the police and everything that’s when we found out he had passed away,” Coffey said.
David overdosed on a combination of crystal meth and heroin, Rhonda is now working to get a life saving drug in the hands of the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office.
“You can be stuck in your grief and you can let yourself go down into that deep dark horrible place of grief and stay there or you can step out of that place and help others,” Coffey said.
With the help of a grant from Kaleo, a pharmaceutical company, 75 officers including patrol, process and correction will be equipped with the drug, Narcan, or Naloxone that reverses the effects of a drug overdose.
Christy Frazier, a health administrator, with the Sheriff’s office said this is life changing.
“This is an incredible opportunity to give first responder’s the chance to save lives. How terrible would it be if you got to the scene and you’re watching this victim possibly pass away right in front of you and you didn’t have what you needed,” Frazier said.
In a statement from Sheriff Wayne Anderson he said this gives officers another tool and might help them reach patients faster than ambulances could.
“I just miss sharing things with him on a daily basis, he was a funny kind of guy, and sometimes something will happen and I’m like I have to tell David and then it hits you you know,” Coffey said.
Rhonda Coffey will never get her son back but she hopes this prevents families from experiencing the pain she has.
Coffey told News Channel 11 the Sullivan County Sheriff’s office should have Narcan in their hands within the next 10 days.
Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.