Harrisburg, Pa. (WHTM) – A new Pennsylvania Senate Bill would force individuals suffering from a drug overdose to receive treatment that could last close to a month.
“I’m trying to keep it together. It feels medieval and I’m really concerned,” Matt McGahran, who lost his son Jamie McGahran to an overdose in 2020, said. “This is just such the wrong approach and will do so much harm.”
Senate Bill 962, sponsored by Republican Dan Laughlin and Democrat Anthony Williams, would require a person who overdoses to be evaluated by a physician or addiction treatment provider for a minimum of five days.
“Most of these folks that are that are this far down and into substance use disorder are incapable of making clear decisions on what’s best for them,” Laughlin said.
The five-day evaluation period can be extended up to 20 days, according to Laughlin.
“There would be a hearing at each stage of the involuntary treatment,” Laughlin, who wrote the bill after traveling to Philadelphia, said.
“I saw these people literally laying on the sidewalk dying and I said to myself, ‘I have to do something,'” Laughlin added.
McGahran agrees that something needs to be done to help those struggling, but believes this is not the way.
“There’s already so little trust in the medical system for someone with a substance use disorder,” McGahran said. “To break that trust down even more [is] just going to have a devastating impact.”
Other recovery advocates also believe the bill is dangerous.
“Our solutions have to be based in radical love, not radical punishment, or tough love,” recovery advocate Robert Ashford said. “If we want to help people, we’ve got to treat them as human and meet them where they’re at, and that never starts with putting them somewhere involuntary.”