New heroin bill lets addicts who overdose avoid prosecution
Republican lawmakers in Kentucky are supporting a bill which would let addicts who overdose avoid prosecution, if they seek help (FOX19)
FORT THOMAS, KY (FOX19) -
Republican lawmakers in Kentucky are supporting a bill which would let addicts who overdose avoid prosecution, if they seek help.
It's not uncommon for someone over dosing from heroin to be dropped off at a hospital waiting room or just abandoned by their friends because of fears of criminal charges, but some lawmakers are approaching the heroin epidemic by asking a simple question.
"At what point in the cycle of addiction is an addict most likely to be responsive to treatment," said Kentucky State Senator Chris McDaniel.
Republican State Sen. McDaniel says the unanimous answer is when a person is arrested so he and other Republican lawmakers have crafted a measure that would allow someone who overdoses or witnesses an overdose to avoid criminal charges if they seek help from first responders to get into treatment, treatment the state will help pay for.
"We've allocated an additional $7.5 million annually to treatment programs in or operated by county jails. We're also allocating $5.8 million annually to community health centers like North Key and Seven Counties who provide treatment and recovery programs," Sen. McDaniel said.
The legislation was a collaborative effort between lawmakers, police, prosecutors and treatment advocates like the Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response Team.
Coordinator Jim Thaxton says bill is a good start, but doesn't cover disease prevention.
"It is condoms it's also an outreach program that would allow people who are using intravenouslyy with heroin an opportunity to exchange needles so that Hepatitis C and HIV is not spread," said Thaxton.
Senator McDaniel says the measure will be the first bill taken up by the senate judiciary committee in January and he believes it has a good chance of passage this legislative session.
According to the Associated Press, heroin overdose deaths now account for 32 percent of the state's drug overdose deaths, up from 20 percent in 2012. Northern Kentucky has seen largest increase in overdose heroin deaths.