Ohio Senate approves bill to make drug overdose antidote available without prosecution

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - On Wednesday, the Ohio Senate approved a bill to provide a drug overdose antidote to friends or family members of addicts without the risk of prosecution as long as they call 9-1-1 immediately.

The legislation is aimed at reducing the state's record-high number of fatal overdoses from heroin and painkillers - which has surpassed car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in Ohio.

First responders and police have access to Naloxone, but many families of drug users say it's not enough.

James Barton died last year from a heroin overdose. Now, his stepfather is trying to prevent other families from going through a similar loss.

"It needs to be out there so it can be used to help people who've done too much," said David Reeves.

It's referred to as Naloxone, Narcan or even the Second Chance Drug. When injected, it reverses an opioid overdose.

However, the question is with licensed training. Should it be in the hands of an addict's friend or family? David Reeves says absolutely, because in this area, heroin is worse than ever.

"I'm actually surprised it's blown up like it has. Twenty years ago I was an EMT and it was there but you just never heard anything about it," said Reeves.

Years ago, Reeves worked as a first responder. He says during that time, all they could do was transport the overdose victim to the nearest hospital.

"Parents need to be trained how to do it. These parents know this is the way their kids are and they need every advantage they can get," said Reeves.

But there are some concerns. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell says he fully supports the end goal to reduce overdose deaths.  He wonders if everyone administering the antidote will always be medical trained and call 9-1-1 during an overdose.

Additionally, he wonders if more people will abuse the drugs knowing they have a "second chance."

"People that are wanting to push against it they just need to be put in the position, unfortunately, to see what actually goes on with this so they can have some first-hand experience on it," said Reeves.

Similar laws are already in place in other states including Kentucky.

Reeves says many parents will even drive across state lines to take the class, get the antidote, just in case their loved one overdoses.

The bill now goes back to the house after changes were made by the Senate.

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