'After the Overdose' explores those who are addicted, need help
JOHNSTOWN –Jared Oswald is a recovering addict. He has been clean now for 30 days.
Oswald says he was near death when he overdosed in his ex-wife's house. He was injected with Naloxone -- the overdose reversal drug -- six times in a row.
His plan was as soon as he could stand, he would leave the hospital and go straight home. He doesn't know if he would've done that, but he does know he had six bags of heroin that night.
When someone overdoses, they generally have immunity. You can't get arrested when you're brought in for an overdose, but you also can't be forced to get treatment.
You can just leave if you want.
Pam Gehlmann heads Alliance Medical Center in Johnstown. She says she wants to reach people the moment they overdose.
Alliance has a phone line set up, and they want the hospital to have people call it after overdoses, or have counselors or recovery specialists come in for every overdose, even on nights and weekends.
For now, though, Conemaugh doesn't do either of those things. They say they’re still working on how to implement that program, and there's lots of kinks to work out.
Somerset County District Attorney Lisa Lazzari-Strasiser thinks there are better solutions, too, for overdose patients. She thinks if you overdose, you should go to treatment or jail.
But even then, the jails would be full. The treatment centers might be full, too.
They also might not receive treatment like the kind Oswald got, and the kind he'll keep getting now that he's home. He's back at the hospital where he overdosed.
It might not look like much, but this is the warm hand-off. Oswald won't be alone in recovery. He'll have plenty people with him.
If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction and needs help, here are some resources provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:
Info on warm hand-offs.
Info on overdose reversal.