WOODBURY - The heroin overdose antidote Narcan has saved hundreds of lives on Long Island, and a state lawmaker is now calling for anyone saved by it to undergo mandatory drug rehabilitation.
Lawmakers from Long Island have voiced support for a bill proposed by state Sen. Rob Ortt, who represents western New York.
"Oftentimes, they go to a hospital, they're revived, a couple words from the doctor or nurse and then they're on their way," says Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore).
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Boyle says that such exchanges between addicts and emergency workers can become a recurring cycle.
"I've spoken to families who literally had the same person given Narcan two to three times in the same day," he says.
Although the drug saves lives, Boyle says counseling needs to be part of a broader solution.
Some experts disagree.
Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, who runs drug treatment centers, says that mandatory rehab is not the answer.
"The big issue here is the bed capacity," Reynolds says. "There are people here right now who are waiting to get treatment, and we don't have the bed space available for them."
Reynolds says it may be better to hold patients who have overdosed until they speak with counselor.
Other critics say that they are worried mandated rehab will deter addicts from seeking treatment, which may result in increased deaths.