Narcan saved their lives

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Administered in recent years by first responders and ordinary Long Islanders alike, Narcan is credited with saving thousands of lives in a region that continues to grapple with an opioid epidemic.

Here are a few of their stories. Read full coverage here.

'We are all worth saving. All of us.'

Tatiana Green, 27 Plainedge Works in addiction recovery,
(Credit: Green is shown in her home on Feb. 22, 2016. Credit: Chris Ware)

Tatiana Green, 27

Plainedge

Works in addiction recovery, earning her bachelor's degree at SUNY Empire State College.

Drugs crept into Tatiana Green's life early. She was 4 when her father was jailed for 10 years for trafficking, she said, taken away in a raid that she and her friends came upon accidentally as they were riding home on the school bus.

"As we passed, our block was barricaded off by police, DEA, feds, etcetera," she said. "My dad was arrested that day. The driver dropped all of the other kids off first and drove around the neighborhood a bit. Then we were taken home."

In high school, Green had a hard time making friends. She said she smoked cigarettes to fit in with an older crowd and quickly graduated to marijuana. Cocaine, ketamine and ecstasy came next.

Her later addiction to heroin and prescription pills led to eight arrests, several monthslong jail stints and five visits to rehab, she said.

Green lived for a time in Brooklyn and in Manhattan. Occasionally, she was homeless.

Prescribed oxycodone for kidney trouble, she started pulverizing, sniffing and eventually selling the medication, she said. It was a combination of the painkiller -- two crushed pills, straight up her nose -- and Xanax that led to her first overdose, the one from which Narcan saved her at age 18.

"I remember being in the bathroom and my mother coming in," Green said. "I was in and out of consciousness. They said I stopped breathing. I woke up screaming."

Green, who grew up in Plainedge, overdosed twice after that. It was the third near-death episode that made her seek help.

Her father, who returned home from jail when she was in high school, quit drugs and went straight, she said, eventually owning his own company. She begged him and her grandmother to send her to rehab.

She said she shot six bags of heroin before she left for treatment.

"I wanted to die," she said. "When I got there, they nurtured me back to health.

I was too sick to feed myself. I was so high. I went to 12-step meetings and they taught me what addiction was and that I wasn't a bad person."

She said she has counseled hundreds of addicts since she stopped abusing drugs.

"I don't give up on anybody," she said. "We are all worth saving. All of us."

DATE SHE STOPPED USING DRUGS: April 19, 2011

Tatiana Green, of Franklin Square, now a drug
(Credit: Chris Ware)

Tatiana Green, of Franklin Square, now a drug counselor is shown in her home Feb. 22, 2016.

'I was astonished to wake up to my entire family with tears and in their eyes ...'

Haley DeRosa, 20 Huntington Trying to finish high
(Credit: DeRosa at her Huntington home on July 1, 2016. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

Haley DeRosa, 20

Huntington

Trying to finish high school, aspires to work in child development/psychology.

Haley DeRosa said her drinking and drug use mirrored that of her friends back in her early high school days.

Soon, though, she eclipsed them as she gravitated to an even riskier crowd -- and eventually became hooked on Xanax.

"My drug use started taking such a toll on my identity and my mood," she said. "My friend group totally changed."

She had always had older friends.

At 16, she broke up with a boyfriend of three and a half years and felt completely lost.

"I didn't know what to do with myself," she said. "At that point, all of my friends had graduated high school."

DeRosa said she started snorting heroin to cope with the loss and was shooting up within a week. She entered a residential drug treatment center on Long Island and stayed for 10 months. DeRosa was clean the entire time, she said, but started using three weeks after her release. She was 17.

"When I got out, I wasn't able to apply all of the skills I had learned there and I picked back up," she said.

DeRosa returned to high school sober and managed her addiction for three months before she began using yet again. She overdosed in March 2014 while at home in her bedroom.

"My dad heard me from the lower level gasping for air," she said. "I only used one bag. I drank a few hours before and had taken a little bit of Xanax. They called the cops. My mom and my sister had to give me CPR."

The police, she said, gave her Narcan.

"I was astonished to wake up to my entire family with tears in their eyes and EMTs and cops in my room," she said.

DeRosa was briefly hospitalized and went back to treatment for two months. When she got out, she relapsed again.

In October 2014, she was arrested for forging a check: It was her parents who turned her in. She went to jail for 21 days and then went to drug court, she said.

"I wouldn't be alive today without my parents and my family," she said.

What followed was more treatment, more periods of sobriety, more promises and false starts.

Her parents, fearful she'd die, told her she could no longer live with them.

They sent her to a Florida treatment center and then a halfway house in West Palm Beach, she said. DeRosa stayed clean for six months but relapsed in July 2015.

The cycle repeated itself during the following year. DeRosa, who now lives with her parents in Huntington, said she's been revived by Narcan six times, with the last incident occurring in early June 2016.

Though she's pledged to stop using before, this time feels different, she says.

"I am wholeheartedly desperate," she said. "This is the first time in my life that I feel as grounded as I do. I know my heart is in the right place, but that it is going to take time."

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DATE SHE STOPPED USING DRUGS: 6-16-16

Haley DeRosa, 20, at her Huntington home Friday
(Credit: Danielle Finkelstein)

Haley DeRosa, 20, at her Huntington home Friday afternoon, July 1, 2016, has been battling drug addiction for about 6 years.

'I wanted to change my life but didn’t know how to do it'

Nicholas Garbarini, 30 Patchogue Carpenter A skateboarder and
(Credit: Garbarini in his Bellport home. Credit: Randee Daddona)

Nicholas Garbarini, 30

Patchogue

Carpenter

A skateboarder and self-proclaimed misfit in junior high, Nicholas Garbarini started smoking pot at 12 and tried OxyContin four years later. He said he stuck with prescription pills for the next two years, but as they grew scarce and expensive, he moved to heroin.

Garbarini wanted to make a change in his life: He relocated to Texas and later to Denver to escape his habit. It didn't help.

"I didn't care about myself," he said. "I just needed to get high."

Garbarini said he was treated with Narcan three times. The first save came when he was 20 and was using with several friends in a Bellport Village house. One person passed out in the driveway. After police revived him, an officer walked through the home and heard the unmistakable gurgle of someone whose brain was no longer commanding him to breathe, Garbarini said. It took two doses of Narcan to bring Garbarini to life.

He came to shaking and convulsing.

The second save happened in Garbarini's mother's house.

The last, at age 24, was in a KFC bathroom on Route 112. In that case, someone kicked down the door to get him out after he'd been in there for a suspiciously long time. He woke up surrounded by 10 cops and firefighters.

At 21, Garbarini was imprisoned for nine months on a felony assault charge after a fight with a dealer. "I wanted to change my life but didn't know how to do it," he said.

He turned a corner at 28, when he was living in a house in Patchogue and using coke, crack and Xanax. He hadn't paid his rent in five months. A friend helped him check into a South Carolina treatment facility.

"They gave me the tools to stay sober and something changed in my heart," he said. "I didn't look at myself or the world in the same way. I had a really negative view of the world and a lot of self-hatred. The world seemed like a nasty and evil place. That changed."

Garbarini, who eventually earned his GED, says he's no longer tempted by drugs.

"Before, when someone offered me something, my first reaction was, 'I want it and I'm going to take it,'" he said. "Now, when I see somebody who is doing drugs, my first reaction is, 'Oh my God, this person needs help."

DATE HE STOPPED USING DRUGS: June 27, 2014

Nicholas Garbarini, 30, of Bellport, was revived by
(Credit: Randee Daddona)

Nicholas Garbarini, 30, of Bellport, was revived by Narcan after a heroin overdose and has been revived three times in his life.

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