Family shares heroin overdose story as Mississippi troopers get Narcan

HERNANDO, Miss. -- Mississippi communities will now have expanded access to a potentially lifesaving drug in the case of a heroin overdose. The Mississippi Department of Public Safety announced it'll provide Narcan to all law enforcement officers.

Carla Perkins' loved ones applaud the decision; they said she was a dedicated mother and wife, as well as a nurse who often worked 12-hour overnight shifts. But that’s also how she hid a dark secret from her family.

“We just thought she was tired all the time,” her husband William Perkins said. “We suspected something for a while. We went in her purse and found it in her purse around February with the needles and the spoons."

He said she tried to get clean and signed up to start rehab in June. But the day before she was supposed to go in, she relapsed.

“June 16, she overdosed in a bathroom in Coldwater. Her friend did CPR for 30 minutes. Then the ambulance came to pick her up,” William Perkins said.

DeSoto County officials said Carla Perkins was one of 19 people who overdosed on heroin and died already this year in the northern Mississippi county. State officials have called it an epidemic.

“Yesterday new statistics came out that said we lose 142 people a day to drug overdoses in the U.S.," DPS Commissioner Marshall Fisher said. "That’s 944 people a week, nearly 52,000 a year. That’s like losing Lafayette County, Hancock County and Loudoun County; every person in those counties. That puts it in perspective."

State officials used that reasoning to decide to arm every trooper in the Department of Public Safety with Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose.

"Thank you. It’ll help other people now," William Perkins said. "I think if they'd have gotten there 30 minutes earlier and gave her the Narcan, it would’ve given her a better chance of surviving."

Perkins emphasized he had never suspected his wife would be an overdose victim until it was too late. He hoped to warn others about the possibility and risk factors.

Perkins has been working with Wings of Hope, a DeSoto County-based organization that serves the Mid-South with opioid and heroin addiction resources and advocacy work.

If you or your loved one is struggling from addiction, you can also call the Turning Point Recovery 24/7 hotline at 888-512-3321 or visit Turningpointtreatment.org.