Addicts Could Be Forced into Treatment After Repeat Overdoses
The New Bedford City Council continues to look at new ways to curb the growing opioid crisis on city streets with a new motion filed Thursday evening.
Councilor at Large Debora Coelho is requesting figures from police on how many people overdose repeatedly over a 24 hour span and to draft an ordinance allowing police to commit those repeat offenders to the hospital for 24 hour surveillance.
Coelho says this next step is a matter of public safety as well as the safety for the individual.
"Statistically, that person is going to (overdose) again," Coelho said. "So basically that person becomes really high risk to themselves, to their families, to their community and to society."
It's not yet clear how many overdoses will constitute a mandatory trip to the hospital, but that and other details will be addressed before the Committees on Ordinances and Public Safety and Neighborhoods along with police and other invited officials.
The goal, according to Coelho, is reducing the burden on the city's emergency services, as well as treating what she calls a disease more effectively.
Many individuals who are treated with Narcan, the drug commonly used to reverse overdose symptoms, they typically refuse further treatment. If they do accept, Coelho explains a trip to the emergency room for an overdose is much different than for a flesh wound.
"When it's things that are internal, in the sense of overdosing, it becomes harder because it's not so visual," said Coelho, who also chairs the Committee on Public Safety and Neighborhoods.
Other councilors offered their support to the motion and look forward to discussing the idea further.
Councilor at Large Ian Abreu suggested that Narcan is "simply a BandAid" and more treatment is needed to address the issue. He plans to make sure any mandatory hospital treatment is handled by qualified personnel.