The Power of Ideas: Traci Green

She's bringing heroin addicts back from the brink of death. —By Karen Weintraub

traci green Boston Medical Center

Photograph by Trevor Reid

If your allergic child goes into anaphylactic shock, you can administer an EpiPen—a quick shot of adrenaline that can reverse the effects of the reaction until you get to a hospital. But if you’re the parent of a heroin addict, it’s been harder to get access to naloxone—­better known as Narcan—a drug that can rescue an overdosing addict from the brink of death. As the state’s opioid epidemic has spiraled out of control, Traci Green has been pushing for wide distribution of the medication. She helped develop an overdose tool kit, released by the Justice Department, to help police stem the overdose tide. As deputy director of Boston Medical Center’s Injury Prevention Center, she’s helped get naloxone not only to first responders but also to drugstores and community organizations across Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The drug’s ability to save lives, Green says, makes its wide availability both medically and socially transformative. Ultimately, naxolone is a way “to tell people that their life is worth saving,” she says. “And it’s especially powerful when that comes from law enforcement, from your mom, from your community members. You can’t forget that.”