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Lawmakers Consider Immunity For Drug Overdose Reporting

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Colorado State Capitol (credit: CBS)

Colorado State Capitol (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (CBS4)- A mother who lost her son hopes to change Colorado law in hopes of other parents never having to go through what she did.

Helen Alvillar is hoping lawmakers pass a bill that will exempt people from prosecution who notify authorities of a possible overdose.

“He was a wonderful person, he just had a problem that unfortunately took his life,” said Alvillar.

Leo Espinosa was with friends and passed out in a room where they didn’t find him until it was too late.

“It was the coroner’s office telling me that they were taking him to the coroner’s office. I asked him what happened and he said, ‘It seems to be an apparent overdose, drug overdose’,” said Alvillar.

Doctors said in many cases where drugs are involved, friends of the victim are just too afraid to call for help and believe the victim can just sleep it off.

“Unfortunately these drugs slowly build up in your bloodstream and that’s the worst thing you can do,” said Sen. Irene Aguilar, a Democrat representing Denver.

Aguilar is also a primary care physician. She is sponsoring a bill that would give limited immunity to people who call for help in overdoses and stay with the victim until paramedics arrive.

“Because there is an antidote every emergency vehicle carries that can immediately reverse the effects of drugs and save a life, just that easily,” said Aguilar.

Aguilar said the legislation will have it’s biggest impact on college campuses where prescription drug abuse is growing.

Alvillar is among those supporting the bill. She said no mother should have to feel her pain.

“If someone needs help, whoever it is with them, needs to call to get them the help they need so we don’t lose someone else,” said Alvillar.

The Drug Policy Alliance is also helping push the bill. The measure passed out of the Senate this week and is headed to the House where Sen. Aguilar has a Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Ken Summers.

Colorado is not alone in the effort to grant partial immunity to those who report drug overdoses. Eleven other states have passed similar laws.

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