NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In 2020, at least 2,338 people died due to opioid-related overdoses, but deaths from pain drugs have been happening for a lot longer.
The heartbreaking loss of her son in 2014 now has Cindy Blom pushing for what she calls a life-saving potential new law.
Art on the walls at her Fariview cabin on Cindy's property tells the story of a talented artist, Erik Blom.
"This is where Erik lived in the last year of his life or so," she said.
He died on May 1, 2014, at just 29 from a heroin overdose.
It's a story Cindy Blom isn't ashamed of or afraid to tell.
In fact, she hopes to change the way society looks at situations like this.
"We have been speaking out, and we build guitars in his memory, really to deal with the shame and the stigma around substance use and just how you even get here," she said.
Cindy said she's happy to hear about HB 2228, which would require doctors who are prescribing opioids to a patient to also inform them of the dangers and to let them know a prescription to naloxone, or Narcan, is also available.
"When Erik died, joe six-pack wasn't carrying Narcan. It was only available probably with paramedics. The police didn't even have it. He would've been given a second chance if the friend he was with had it that night," she said.
Medical experts — such as Vanderbilt's Division Chief of Pain Medicine Dr. David Edwards — said ideas like these are what's called a harm reduction strategy.
It's flooding the community with a life-saving drug, something that essentially stops overdose deaths.
"This is like front-line stuff," said Dr. Edwards. "Naloxone is like the antidote to an overdose. Does it matter who has it or how available it is? probably not because there aren't really any side effects to it. No is at risk of having a lot of it out there. It's just you have the tool to potentially reduce it."
Cindy said she's trying to fuel change through the situation surrounding Erik's death.
"I think it should've happened yesterday or the day before. It's like a no-brainer," she said.
Tennessee has a standing order for naloxone through pharmacies under certain situations. So, someone doesn't always have to consult their doctor first.