‘Anyone can save a life’

By Alex Branch

Alan Stucky carries Naloxone everywhere.

The UNT System Vice Chancellor and General Counsel always is prepared to administer the opioid reversal drug, also known by its brand name Narcan, should he encounter someone suffering an opioid overdose.

He does this in loving memory of his son, Holden.

On Sept. 25, 2017, Holden Stucky, 24, died from an opioid overdose. The University of North Texas philosophy student was prescribed oxycodone after he shattered his arm while riding his longboard. The door to addiction opened.

Four months later, Holden was gone.

On Jan. 28, Stucky will join UNT Health Science Center to help launch an ambitious project to prevent opioid overdose deaths in North Texas. UNTHSC will begin the distribution of 9,000 doses of Narcan, and train students, employees and community members to administer the life-saving medication.

“We live with the loss of Holden every day,” Stucky said. “But we also live with the fear that someone else’s loved one could overdose, and I won’t have the means to save them. We’re determined not to let that happen.” UNTHSC received Narcan through More Narcan Please, a state opioid response grant administered by UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing. The drug is applied nasally.

Perrone Pharmacy and Thrive Pharmacy Solutions have partnered with UNTHSC to distribute the medication. In Texas, a standing order allows anyone to walk into a pharmacy and buy Narcan without a prescription. The U.S. Surgeon General has called for heightened awareness and availability of the medication.

“Anyone can save a life with Narcan,” said Dr. Michael Williams, UNTHSC President. “The providers of the future training at UNT Health Science Center will lead the way in teaching people how this life-saving drug can prevent overdose deaths. Protecting our community from this epidemic is our responsibility as a health care leader in Fort Worth.”

Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. While the overdose rate in Texas is below the national average, nearly 1,500 Texans still died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

No one is immune from the epidemic, Stucky said. Holden was an outdoorsman and avid reader, writer and traveler, visiting New Zealand, Morocco, China and Thailand. Stucky and his wife, Mellina, did not know their son’s prescription medication had become an addiction until his overdose.

Holden died on his mother’s birthday.

A month later, the Stuckys attended International Overdose Awareness Day in Denton Downtown Square. It was the first time they recognized the widespread need for Naloxone. Since that day, the Stuckys not only carry it everywhere, they encourage others to do the same.

“We all need to do everything we can so this doesn’t happen to another son, daughter, parent, sibling, best friend or even a stranger,” he said.

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