DENTON, Texas — Sharon Roland is on a mission that she never expected or wanted.
She is from the Denton area, and she is working to put the lifesaving drug Narcan in as many places as possible.
“We would like to see Narcan everywhere,” Roland said. “Everywhere people congregate.”
Roland is passionate because she believes the drug could have saved her son. Randy Roland died three years ago of an overdose of heroin that was laced with fentanyl
“It would have given him one more chance at sobriety, so it would have made a difference,” she said.
Randy began using drugs as a teenager, following the sudden loss of his father to a health problem. His family did everything they could to help him, but his struggle with opioids continued through his young adulthood, even as he graduated from college and received a master’s degree from UNT. He wanted to work in drug counseling.
After his death, Roland found the strength to honor her son by adopting his goal to help others. With her other adult children, she founded an organization called React to Opioid Overdose, or ROO, which happens to be Randy’s childhood nickname.
They hold an International Opioid Awareness Day in Denton to inform the public about overdose deaths and combat stigma surrounding overdose treatment. They are also distributing Narcan in places around the Denton community.
“Whether you ever have to use it or not, to have it could save a life,” she said.
So far, she has purchased more than 150 boxes of Narcan and placed them at Denton public high schools, at her church, and at the courthouse. Anyone can use the nasal spray with little training to help revive someone who has suffered an overdose.
“It will not harm anybody who’s not having an overdose,” she said.
Roland has also offered to place Narcan at all dormitories at UNT. The university said they are considering her offer, and that UNT police already carry Narcan, and the drug is available at the student health center.
Roland believes that greater accessibility to the drug without needing to call 9-1-1 or wait for a responder can save lives