TRAVERSE CITY — A bit of do-it-yourself ingenuity stretched out a $10,000 donation to help save lives from opioid overdose in Traverse City.
Addiction Treatment Services will provide community members free naloxone, a drug which counteracts and helps reverse the effects of opioid overdoses. Julie Moore, a physician assistant with ATS, hopes to make hundreds of kits available to addicts, their family members or anyone else who might need to use it.
"It’s no questions, you don’t have to explain yourself, we don’t ask any demographic information, we don’t write any names," Moore said.
The naloxone purchases were made possible with a $10,000 donation from the family of Michael Hertler, a 29-year-old Traverse City man who died last year. Hertler graduated from Traverse City Central High School and worked for his family's business.
But Hertler fell into heroin.
A police report states early Sept. 3 that one of Hertler's friends found him unconscious in his Ramsdell Street home. The friend, who later told police that Hertler bought heroin, performed CPR and left after he seemingly revived Hertler. Hours later, a woman found Hertler dead.
An autopsy found Hertler died from an overdose of fentanyl, a potent opioid. The police report doesn't mention whether Hertler's friend had access to naloxone, which works by binding to opioid receptors and blocking their effects. The drug, also known as Narcan, only works on opioids and is generally considered safe.
"The benefits always outweigh the risk,” Moore said.
Hertler's family didn't return a call for comment, but used his obituary to ask for memorial donations to ATS and for more openness in talking about addiction. Moore said ATS officials decided to stretch the money as far as possible.
A dose of naloxone often proves costly.
Moore said pre-made naloxone kits can cost up to $4,000. She decided to make kits herself to help put the lifesaving drug in more hands. A medical supply company provided everything needed to make certain types kits for $20 each, she said.
"Once this is all said and done we might be able to give away 300 (kits)," she said.
ATS currently has 75 naloxone injectors and 25 naloxone intranasal sprays, Moore said. She said people can pick them up for free at ATS' detox center known as The P.I.E.R. at 940 E. Eighth St. in Traverse City.
People can call for a kit at 1-800-622-4810 or visit ATS' website at https://addictiontreatmentservices.org/resources/rescue-kit.