'Atomizers' could be the key to saving thousands of lives strugg - WDRB 41 Louisville News

'Atomizers' could be the key to saving thousands of lives struggling with heroin addiction

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's no longer a silent killer. The evidence of Kentucky's heroin epidemic is growing louder by the day -- marked by the sounds of sirens, grieving families and addicts overdosing in the street.

Now there's a new attempt to address the sobering fight.

Clay Masterson knows firsthand the feeling of a heroin overdose. 

"You're kind of lucid, and then you get sleepy, and then there's total blackout," he explained. "You're blank. You don't even know it's coming...it is an absolutely miserable existence. "

But the Louisville lawyer has moved from addict to advocate.

"This is the first time I've publicly come out with my struggle with opiates in public," Masterson said.

Masterson spoke  Friday to hundreds of Kentucky pharmacists who will leave a conference with 1,000 little life-savers known as "atomizers." The foam cone goes at the end a syringe filled with Naloxone, making the opiate blocker much easier to give without a shot. It works like a nasal spray and reduces the effect of an overdose in minutes. 

We've recently seen it in action. Body cam footage captured an LMPD officer giving Naloxone through the nose in a gas station bathroom, finding two addicts in distress. Minutes later, they were awake. 

"It is true that the atomizers have not been covered by insurance and that can be a barrier to someone expecting to get the device for free," said pharmacist Tim Finley. 

Pharmacists are now part of the front line of defense. New laws in Kentucky essentially allow them to write their own Naloxone prescriptions to anyone in the public, such as family, friends, and even addicts themselves who are fearing the worst. 

"I'm able to use my past pain to help other people now every single day," Masterson said.

Masterson says Naloxone saves him -- but more than 2,000 Kentuckians were not as fortunate over the last two years. The sobering rise in overdose deaths was his wake up call. 

"Sometimes you almost get, like, survivors guilt," Masterson said. "Why did I get it? Why did it work for me this time?" 

He's hoping the little life-saver will help others join him on the road to recovery. 

"That's all I want: other people to have is a second chance," Masterson said.

Health insurance provider Wellcare partnered with the Kentucky Pharmacists' Association to provide the atomizers.

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