SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Overdoses are on the rise in the opioid epidemic. The CDC drug overdose deaths last year were the highest on record. However, a powerful tool called Narcan is saving lives.

“If you’re using out there right now or having addition, reach out for help,” said Kevin Hughes.

Kevin Hughes counts himself lucky to be alive. Overdosing on heroin not once but three times. It all started with a sip of alcohol at the age of 11.

“Things got really good for me, in a sense. I fell in love with it. The feeling. Then I started smoking weed at 12,” stated Hughes.

Oxycontin at 13. Dropping out of high school at 16 and getting a job to fuel his addiction, adding cocaine to the mix.

“It gradually went on to the pills weren’t working. When I was 19 or 20 years old I got into heroin,” explained Hughes.

For the next seven-to-eight years he ran with the drug dealers.

“When the drugs called and they said jump, I said how high? There were a lot of things in my life that I’ve done that I regretted,” said Hughes.

Kevin’s addiction fueled his criminal behavior. Robbing people to get his next high.

“I tried to do everything in my power to get what I can every single day. There were times where I wasn’t able to get money and I could only shoot up once or twice,” explained Hughes.

His tolerance to drugs kept increasing.

“In my addiction, I tried to get the most I could out of my high,” said Hughes.

Then Kevin overdosed, “three times within one year and I was revived by Narcan.”

Naloxone or Narcan is a nasal spray that reverses the effect of an overdose. First responders received it first saving countless lives since getting approved in 2015.

“Kevin’s story is one that shows that what they’re doing is also really making a difference and sometimes it takes a couple of times and addiction is difficult,” stated Carina Havenstrite Program Manager at Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office.

Through the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office, and its recovery coalition Narcan kits can be mailed anonymously.

The kits include two doses, instructions, a hotline number, and recovery information.

“We’ve distributed over 630 recovery kits so far, we’ve had four confirmed lives saved through that initiative as well,” explained Havenstrite.

“The more information that we can get out to the general public the more society understands that this is a treatable condition, its a use disorder that with treatment there is recovery,” stated Mark Powell from Lackawanna County District Attorney.

For two decades the county has offered a drug treatment court. A diversionary program to get users the help they need, if they so choose.

“They can avoid some of the harsh jail terms associated with some of the drug offenses,” said Powell.

“I completed the drug treatment court program,” said Hughes.

Now sober since October 2017, Kevin is living life helping others. At age 32 he’s a certified recovery specialist at Geisinger Marworth Treatment Center in Waverly.

“Now being able to provide that to them and show them that a former addict like I have can be successful is very inspiring to them,” explained Hughes.

A message of perseverance, hope, and help.