Recovery and Harm Reduction Advocacy 2021
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
***ALL ADVOCACY THIS YEAR IS VIRTUAL*** Representative's phones may not be manned. We are told voicemails are being automatically transcribed into emails. Thus, we recommend emailing your delegate and senator. Scroll to bottom of page for a suggested email template.
We are asking Virginians who support harm reduction and recovery to e-mail your legislators today and ask them to support two vital pieces of legislation.
Don't know who your legislator is? Find them here: https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/
Strengthen "Danny's Bill", HB2300 Hospitals routinely revive people from an overdose and then release them an hour or two later, even in the middle of the night, in full blown withdrawal with no further help. Those individuals frequently overdose again mere hours later. This would not be tolerated for any other condition, but the stigma of drug use is rampant. In 2020, HB903 enact standard operating procedures in hospitals treating an individual for a substance related emergency, but we were not successful in mandating the bare minimum those standards must include. This year we are going back to demand that individuals who have been treated for an overdose be provided a take-home naloxone kit and written information on available resources for harm reduction, treatment, and recovery.
Defelonize Drug Posession (No bill # Yet): Decades have proven the war on drugs to be a failure. More lives are being lost or ruined than ever. In 2012, Chris' substance use disorder was being treated and stabilized, however a temporary relapse resulted in felony charges. The years of hard work he had put into rebuilding his life began to crumble around him when he found he would likely not be able to gain his work license as a felon. Felony drug charges ruin far more lives than they save. It's time we do away with them and focus on addressing the drug crisis as a public health issue.
Good Samaritan Law, HB1821 - expands Good Samaritan protections to individuals rendering emergency care to an overdose victim while another individual calls for emergency services. Previously just the individual overdosing and the one person who placed the call for help were protected.
Automatic Expungement of Criminal Records, HB2113 - Automatic expungement of certain criminal offenses, after a designated period of time, that can prevent people with SUD from accessing housing/jobs/education.
Restricted Licenses for Drug-Related Charges, SB1213 - Authorizes the DMV to issue restricted driving credentials to individuals with driver's license suspensions resulting from drug-related offenses.
Danny's Bills info sheet: Danny's Bill One-pager
Dear Delegate/Senator _____,
I write to you today as a constituent to ask you to take action on one of the most critical public health crises of our time. Fatal opioid overdoses increased 77% in Virginia in quarter two of 2020 compared to quarter two of 2019. Emergency departments routinely revive patients from an overdose then discharge them hours later, in withdrawal, with no resources, linkage to care, or follow up. This practice is so common it has earned the nickname “treated and streeted.” Many of those individuals overdose again hours or days later, and many of them will die.
Danny’s law, effective July 1, 2020 requires hospitals with an emergency department to establish a protocol for treatment of individuals experiencing a substance-related emergency. It instructs that this protocol may include provision of take-home overdose reversal medication and linkage to other resources - but does not require it. Only a handful of hospitals in Virginia have implemented standards for the discharge of overdose patients, despite the fact that overdose is the number one cause of death in Virginians under age 50. This statewide overdose emergency requires action that is more assertive.
I implore you to vote yes to the amendment to HB2300, an amendment to Danny’s law being carried by Delegate Delaney this year. This amendment would require that each hospital that provides emergency treatment to an individual experiencing an overdose: Provide the patient with take-home naloxone or other opioid antagonist used for overdose reversal, complete a substance use disorder assessment to determine whether additional treatment may be appropriate, and provide written information on available addiction treatment and support resources.
I also ask that you vote in favor of the following other important measures:
Delegate Hudson's bill to de-felonize drug possession, which is soon to be filed. Felony drug charges routinely hold individuals down in despair and prevent them from accessing the stable housing, employment, and education they need to find success in long term recovery.
HB1821 to expand Good Samaritan protections to individuals rendering emergency care to an overdose victim.
HB2113 for the automatic expungement of certain criminal offenses that can prevent people with SUD from accessing housing/jobs/education
SB1213 - Authorizes the DMV to issue restricted driving credentials to individuals with driver's license suspensions resulting from drug-related offenses.
These are only the bare minimum measures needed to save more lives and begin to stem the tide of historic overdose deaths while supporting individuals to attain and maintain long term recovery while rebuilding their lives. Virginians are landing on the streets, and in jails, institutions, and morgues. We can no longer afford to deny these individuals the resources they need to survive.