Proposed SC law could protect drug users

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) A current bill in the South Carolina Senate is trying to make sure drug users aren't a target for police when they help someone who overdoses.

Senator Hembree from North Myrtle Beach is one of the people behind the so called Good Samaritan bill.  He says it would provide protection for someone who sees another person overdosing on drugs even if they are also doing the same thing.  Police will take away anything illegal but not arrest the caller.


"I was in a car and we were following friends," A recovering drug addict said. "They stopped the car, they went to a convenience store, I didn't realize it until we pulled over to the next person's house that they had actually pushed someone out of the car who OD'ed. They didn't want to call the police and get involved."

He says drug users in Horry County avoid helping people who overdose for fear of being arrested themselves.

"They know that they still need to buy drugs, they don't want to be seen by the cops, they don't want to be a target," the man said.

"First and foremost we want to save lives," South Carolina Senator Greg Hembree said. "Whatever we can do to save lives that's our number one priority. I've gotten a lot of phone calls typically from families who have lost someone to an overdose."

As of January 2016, 32 of 50 states have a law that protects people who call police if they witness an overdose. South Carolina is not one of those.

"We've talked about this bill and to a man, to a woman, everyone who's contacted me in that situation has been strongly in favor of the idea," Senator Hembree said.

The recovering addict I spoke to agrees. He says he's alive today because after he O-D on Oxycodone and Xanax, a friend took him to the ER where he was able to get help.

"I came to the conclusion that either I'm going to die or I gotta quit," the man said.

For those who ask why a bill is needed to help those involved in illegal drugs, Senator Hembree says the fundamental responsibility in government is to protect the people even if they are doing things that are self-destructive.

The Good Samaritan bill, it is now moving through the committee process and towards the full senate but passing it could take a year or more.

As for the recovering drug addict I spoke with says he hopes his story can help others. He credited both the group and individual therapy he got as the reason he's made the progress today.

"Unfortunately when you get hooked on drugs it just leads to a downward spiral," he said. "The first step I would say is look at all the damage that you've done to your life. If you are on the borderline and even if you are not sure if you should quit, it's time to quit."

He tells me an addiction to drugs is the same as any addiction.  He said have you ever tried to quit something like biting your nails, you think you're over it and suddenly you look down and you are doing it again.  He says understanding the brain process behind kicking a habit helped him.


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