Mom Who Let Her 9-Year-Old Learn to Treat Heroin Overdoses Deserves Our Praise

9-Year-old Audrey Stepp is helping her brother fight his battle against heroin, and has learned how to help prevent an overdose.

Addiction. It's a dark secret many people don't talk about out of fear of judgment and public persecution. Audrey Stepp might look like your average kid, but this 9-year-old girl has learned to save people from heroin overdoses. The story of this Kentucky tween and her family is truly astounding. Not only do they tackle drug addiction head-on, but they also let others with loved ones battling addiction know they aren't alone. In fact, there's something you can do to help.

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Ever since Audrey was a baby, her older brother Sammy Stepp, 26, has battled drug addiction, progressing from painkillers to heroin over the years. Audrey and her family continue to do what they can for him.

It's an extremely tough and emotional situation that often brings feelings of what went wrong, and what more people can do to help. That's when a lightbulb went off in Jennifer Punkin-Stepp's head, as she hopes to abolish the internal shame a mother and family feel that makes it hard to ask for help.

Like most parents, Jennifer isn't giving up on her son -- not without a fight. To say Jennifer is serious about getting involved would be an understatement. She's a warrior, determined to do what she can to help make a difference.

Jennifer's organization, Bullitt Opioid Addiction Team (BOAT), aims to provide resources to help prevent overdose, be an advocate for change in health care and legislation, empower communities to get involved, and hopefully prevent drug abuse.

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Naloxone training is just one of the tools Jennifer tries to provide. Known as an FDA-approved medicine that helps alter the effects of heroine and other opiods, this life-saving treatment is something Mom hopes more people will have access to (many first responders use it across the country). It can be the determining factor between life and death.

And guess what? Little Audrey is getting involved, too.

"I wanted to learn how to use Narcan [brand provider of the antidote] because I wanted to save my brother if he was ever in trouble," young Audrey told ABC's 20/20. And with her mother's help, Audrey is learning to safely administer a naloxone injection.

Wow.

Drug addiction is very real and doesn't just hurt the person who's using. It can tear families apart and cause so much pain you don't want to admit. And yet, drug addiction happens more than you think.

The Stepp family could be your next-door neighbor, or friends you meet during a school-related event. While it's easy to point the finger of blame and cast judgment, the truth is, we don't know the dynamics of families with a loved one battling drug addiction, and we shouldn't be quick to act like we have the solution.

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This isn't a black-and-white situation, and it deserves more compassion than harsh criticism.

I commend Jennifer and Audrey for making the decision to get involved. I can only imagine how hard this journey has been (even for Sammy), and I hope that Jennifer's organization can help save a life one day. And who knows, that life might be her son's.

 

 

Image via ABCNews

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