Proposal would force treatment for anyone revived with Narcan

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The state of Pennsylvania is still trying to figure out the best way to stop the opioid epidemic.

Channel 11 has learned about a new idea being proposed, where some want to see a Narcan rescue followed by forced treatment.

It has the support of the attorney general, but others are questioning how effective that plan would be.

"Our officers are seeing repeated situations where we are dispensing Narcan to the same people over and over again," said Mt. Lebanon police Chief Aaron Lauth, a complaint that's far from unique for him, but one he deals with on a daily basis.


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It's why he and so many others are searching for solutions, so the pattern of overdoses doesn't repeat itself.

"Do we just revive them and leave them to go continuing to use drugs?" Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said.

After speaking with concerned residents in Mt. Lebanon Wednesday, he told Channel 11 he would like to see required treatment for anyone who overdoses on heroin or another opioid.

"I think there has to be some forced push into treatment and that treatment has to be meaningful," he said. "Not a week or two, but treatment over many months."

It's an idea being openly discussed in Harrisburg, with several bills with similar plans on the table.

"If it's implemented in a heavy-handed way it may be disastrous," said Pitt professor Gerald Cochran, who has studied treating those suffering from opioid addiction.

He's found forcing people into treatment has mixed results.

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"The key idea has to be patient-centered and it has to be in terms of the patient's wishes and desires for their own care," Cochran said.

Another obstacle is a shortage of beds at in-patient facilities.

Experts tell Channel 11 that would have to be accounted for in any plan requiring drug treatment.


 

 

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