WOODBURY, Tenn. (WKRN) – At the age of 20, Emilio Rodriguez experienced his first drug overdose.
Heroin was his drug of choice on that day in December 2006.
“I pulled into a parking lot, into a shopping center,” Rodriguez recalled. “I used, and overdosed pretty much instantly. When I overdosed, I was found black and blue in my car.”
Rodriguez said paramedics used Narcan to reverse the effects of his overdose and he was revived.
“All I can remember from it is the very first gasp of air. Feels like I’m coming out of a depth of an ocean where I’m about to run out of oxygen and you kind of just break the surface,” Rodriguez remembered.
That instance would turn out to be one of four near-fatal overdoses for Rodriguez over a span of a decade.
“Man, I was dirty. I was really, really, really dirty. I was like a feral human,” Rodriguez said.
His second overdose came in May 2012 and it involved morphine.
“I remember coming to in a gasping breath in the back of an ambulance after being found overdosed in my car,” Rodriguez said.
While serving time in prison, there was a third overdose, followed by a fourth one in July 2016.
All four times, Rodriguez credits the first responders’ use of Narcan with saving his life.
“It can kind of encourage you, saying if Plan A goes bad, this is Plan B, just in case,” Rodriguez said. “Sometimes, the overdose is so strong that Plan B doesn’t work. Just changing the scenario by a minute or two minutes, and I wouldn’t be sitting here.”
With his addiction getting worse, Rodriguez decided to look into S2L Recovery, an addiction treatment center in Woodbury.
Once clean, Rodriguez was offered a job with S2L where he educates former addicts in the hopes of preventing them from relapsing and mirroring his mistakes.
“We already have a plethora of football players. We have a plethora of baseball players. We have a plethora of people wanting to be politicians,” Rodriguez said. “We need more people that are trying to help the world, trying to help this addiction crisis that we have here in the United States right now. We need soldiers like that in this battle.”
Learn more about Narcan: The New Norm