It Took 8 Narcan Doses to Save Her. That Was Just the Start

A fentanyl-addicted daughter, and the mother who tried to help her
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2021 5:00 PM CST
She Went to SF Thinking She Could Save Her Girl
Syringes are shown on a sidewalk in San Francisco.   (Getty Images)

Laurie Steves made the drive alone from Port Orchard, Wash., to San Francisco this May. Kind of. As Heather Knight writes in a lengthy story for the San Francisco Chronicle, she had the ashes of her son Zachary in the car. The 25-year-old had died of a fentanyl and ketamine overdose five months prior, and Laurie was determine to spare one of her other children from the same fate. In San Francisco, Jessica DiDia awaited. And who knows what else. Laurie hadn't seen her in 9 years, and the 34-year-old was homeless and addicted to fentanyl. After a weeks-long search the two finally reconnect, but their meetings are fraught, and by the end of July, Laurie realizes her daughter didn't want to get clean. Jessica has been using drugs since her teens but tells Knight the first time she tried fentanyl was in 2019, an experience in which she overdosed and was saved by cops who injected her with Narcan eight times.

She kept on using, and says she has OD'd no less than 50 times. Knight follows Laurie and Jessica's story, but she also places it into the context of San Francisco and the criticism the city has gotten about not doing enough to get dealers off the streets and get the addicted help. She writes, "In 2020, 712 people died of drug overdoses, compared with 257 who lost their lives to COVID-19, 48 who were victims of homicide and 30 who lost their lives in traffic collisions. When the pandemic struck, just about the entire city government flew into action, but the drug crisis had seen comparatively little response." Or, as Jessica puts it, "You get by with doing drugs and suffer no consequences. I like it here." (Read the full story for much more.)

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