HARRISBURG – Sens. Dan Laughlin (R-49) and Anthony Williams (D-8) have introduced bipartisan legislation, Senate Bill 962, aimed at helping individuals regain control of their lives following a drug overdose in which a life-sustaining medication was administered.
Substance use disorder (SUD) is a treatable mental health condition that affects a person’s brain and behavior, leading to their inability to control their use of substances like legal or illegal drugs, alcohol or medications.
“Pennsylvania has implemented overdose protection programs and strategies but there is so much more that is needed,” said Laughlin. “While Naloxone and other life-sustaining medications have reduced our death rate, it does not address the underlying substance use disorder and if left untreated, it will result in an individual receiving multiple doses, and quite frankly, probably end up deceased before too long.”
“How do I find myself standing with my colleague from the polar opposite part of Pennsylvania, who is a registered Republican and probably his voting record doesn’t necessarily follow mine? It’s because he and I acknowledge that Pennsylvania is in a crisis and we are listening to the people,” Williams said. “We’re not following the politics, we’re not listening to extreme voices, we’re identifying that people are sending us here to help, and they’re tired of waiting when they find a loved one trapped in this particular condition.”
According to Pennsylvania Open Data, from Jan. 1, 2018, to July 15, 2023, 89,360 doses of Naloxone – a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose –by emergency medical services personnel and 52,570 emergency room visits were due to opioid overdose. Even before the pandemic, Pennsylvania’s drug overdose death rate was one of the highest in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and that rate has continued to rank high compared to other states. In 2021, our commonwealth recorded its highest-ever total of overdose deaths, 5,449.
An individual suffering with SUD is a harm to themselves and others as they lack the ability to make good decisions or manage their own personal affairs and take care of their own basic needs.
The legislation would create an involuntary commitment process for those given a life-sustaining drug to counteract a drug overdose who have been transported to a hospital to be evaluated. This process would be similar to the 302 commitment process, provided for by Pennsylvania’s Mental Health Procedures Act, which seeks an involuntary commitment for emergency evaluation and treatment for persons who are a danger to themselves or others due to a mental illness.
Recovery is the key for individuals with SUD to move forward. However, without treatment, there is no recovery. It is time for Pennsylvania to take a stand and address this underlying mental health condition.
You can watch the bill introduction announcement, held in the state Capitol on Wednesday, Oct. 18, here.
For more state-related news and information, constituents can visit Laughlin’s website at www.senatorlaughlin.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter @senatorlaughlin.
Contact: David Kozak 717-787-8927