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27 Years Addicted, 3 Years Clean, Woman Credits Narcan for Saving Her

Angie Gilliam was an addict for 27 years before she had a life-changing moment that inspired her to seek help. She has now been clean for three years.

"I was literally the walking dead. When you are in addiction, you are the definition of the walking dead," Gilliam said.

Just when she thought she hit rock bottom, she felt a loss she never saw coming.

"In 2009, my world fell apart, I lost my mom. She died from an accidental overdose."

Shortly after that loss, Angie gave up on herself.

"I was hell-bent on destroying myself, I didn't care if I lived or died," she added.

She tried to take her own life by overdosing, but paramedics gave her Narcan, a life-saving overdose reversal drug.

"If I had done that, if they hadn't had Narcan, I would never know my grandchild," Gilliam said with emotion.

Three years after Gilliam was saved by Narcan, she found out she is going to be a grandmother.

She says God intervened and saved her so she can continue her life as a mother and grandmother.

"He reached down and snatched me up and he broke those chains of addiction," she said.

Gilliam wants other people to know Narcan is a necessary life saving drug and it's not a crutch to keep using.

"If you are given that chance, Narcan saves your life, do not waste that opportunity. You take it and you run with it. That's what I've done," Gilliam added.

Gilliam continues to share her testimony in hopes of saving more lives.

What happens after first responders give patient Narcan

A "Good Samaritan" statute prohibits criminal charges against overdose patients who are not committing any other crime. It's been in effect since July 1, 2015.

"It encourages folks to seek medical treatment for someone who is overdosing," said Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen.

The statute eliminates the ability to charge simple possession or paraphernalia charges for anyone who seeks medical attention for an overdose.

“It really doesn’t preclude us from being able to charge serious felony type charges it just encourages folks to seek help if they have paraphernalia," Allen added.

If an overdose patient is involved in a separate crime, for example, a driving under the influence crash or felony drug possession, the District Attorney's Office could still seek charges.

“Imagine what those overdose death numbers would be if we weren’t administering Narcan so if you put the number of saves that we are doing everyday with the number of deaths we are having everyday, you see what we are actually dealing with," Allen added.

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