Thumbs down: Legislation on overdoses still needs attention
Drug addiction in our region produces a steady stream of tragic headlines.
Earlier this month, Mason County Sheriff Greg Powers reported three overdose deaths in just one week, as the resurgence of heroin hit his community with a vengeance. As experts have pointed out so often over the past few years, the rise of prescription pain pill abuse has opened the door to heroin -- a less expensive but often more dangerous alternative for addicts.
West Virginia now has the sad distinction of having the highest overdose death rate of any state in the nation.
But during this recent legislative session, lawmakers missed the opportunity to take two steps that could help with the crisis.
The House never took action on a Senate bill that would have allowed more emergency service personnel to administer naloxone, which can save a life during a heroin or pain-pill overdose. The House also cut legislation that would have provided legal protections for those who call 911 to report a drug overdose.
"It's a sad day," state Sen. Dan Foster told the Charleston Gazette. "These are policies that have been extremely successful in reducing preventable deaths in numerous other states. There's no reason to believe they wouldn't be successful in West Virginia."
It goes without saying the victims of drug overdoses have put themselves in danger, but limiting the opportunities to save those lives simply heaps one tragedy on top of another.
We hope the legislature will take these bills up again as soon as possible.
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