Two important state bills drafted to help support those recovering from substance abuse issues and their families received unanimous endorsement in the state House and Senate and have been signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf.

One of those new laws, introduced by state Reps. Eric R. Nelson, R-57 of Westmoreland County, and Mark Longietti, D-7 of Mercer County, aims to protect the safety of people who decide to leave addiction treatment facilities against medical advice by requiring these facilities to immediately notify an approved family or support contact person if a person in treatment leaves the facility. Previously, facilities were not required to make this notification.

“The person is often picked up by their dealer or enabler while the family believes they are still safe,” Nelson wrote in a memo to fellow lawmakers. “This notification gap has resulted in overdose deaths and young women who have also been victimized and lured into prostitution. It is not too dramatic to state that this is a life and death matter.”

Another bill, introduced by state Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-122 of Carbon County, provides a similar notification to an approved family or contact person if their loved one is evicted from a recovery house or facility because of a relapse or similar issue.

“For many, this could be what makes the difference between life and death – family and loved ones having the knowledge that this person has stepped out of recovery,” Heffley wrote.

Both bills were passed by a 201-0 vote on April 20 in the state House, by a 50-0 vote June 25 in the state Senate and were signed into law by the governor on June 30.

It’s refreshing to see this kind of unquestionable bipartisan support at the state Capitol for those working their way through the difficult process of substance abuse recovery.

Support for those facing substance abuse or addiction issues is also available locally at county drug and alcohol offices. These treatment programs can help with treatment funding, assess the need for treatment or other services and make referrals to programs and services.

Residents of Columbia, Montour, Snyder and Union counties can contact the program office at 5 Terrace Lane in Danville at 570-275-5422. Northumberland County residents can contact the office at 217 N. Center St., Sunbury, at 570-495-2154.

For much more information on these and related issues, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs website at ddap.pa.gov.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.

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