Extended overdose law could save more lives - WNEM TV 5

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Extended overdose law could save more lives

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LANSING, MI (WNEM) -

The governor has signed a bill that will allow anyone in the state of Michigan to report a drug overdose without the fear of ending up behind bars.

A law passed last year only protected people under the age of 21 from criminal charges when reporting an overdose. The purpose behind the new extended protections is to encourage people not to think twice about calling 911.

Jamie Kirchner and Nicholas Solana both know what it’s like to overdose on drugs.

"I came close once. A neighbor had found me,” Kirchner said.

“I don't remember exactly what my blood alcohol level was but it was way over to the point where they had to pump my stomach,” Solana said.

Luckily for them, someone called 911 and saved their lives.

In some cases, 911 is never dialed because the caller doesn't want to get in legal trouble, and the outcome is tragic.

"To be able to make that phone call knowing that there's no repercussions. I mean it's going to save a number of lives that's just kind of automatic,” Kirchner said.

"There's is going to be a consequence for your actions when you're getting prosecuted. But also in general overdosing is a consequence for your actions,” Solana said.

Solana and Kirchner are students at the RU Addiction Recovery Program.

Pastor Scott Cowling runs the program. He likes the so-called Good Samaritan Law, but wants to see additional resources for people fighting drug addiction.

“I think that this is a good bill to save people's lives. I would like to see the governor move more to set up more programs to make people responsible for what they're doing and get the help that they need,” Cowling said.

Solana and Kirchner said they are grateful to be alive, and glad someone was there to help.

"It was pretty much that overdose experience that led me to really realize, ‘Man I have a problem, I need to start changing my life,’" Solana said.

“You don't want to die. You don't realize it or you don't care at that moment but once you come to and you've got your reasoning with you then realize that I don't want to get back to that point,” Kirchner said.

Both students said the recovery program has gone a long way in keeping them on a path to a life without substance abuse.

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