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Local recovery center says new opioid abuse laws are a start, not enough

RICHMOND, Va. -- Governor Terry McAuliffe signed legislation into law Thursday that is designed to help reduce opioid abuse across the Commonwealth.

Zoe Keehnle, a recovering heroin addict, says this legislation hits close to home because of her history of drug abuse.

The 23-year-old says she lost a close friend from a heroin overdose.

Keehnle said she’s had some close calls herself.

"Since I was 20, I've overdosed four times, whether it just be on heroin of Benzos, Zanax,” she said.

Zoe Keehnle

Zoe Keehnle

Keehnle said she comes from a family of drug addicts and admits she even tried to commit suicide.

"I didn't want to feel anymore,” she said. “I felt like… you know… oblivion was more preferable than the life that I living using.”

Keehnle said it wasn't easy to get help on her own, until she joined the McShin Foundation.

It's a non-profit Recovery Community organization made up of other recovering addicts.

"So, they know where you're at and they know how to help you through certain situations without having to use,” said Keehnle.

Thursday, Governor McAuliffe signed HB 1453 that will allow organizations like the McShin Foundation to have its trained staff give a life-saving drug to opioid users.

The drug Naloxone can reverse the fatal effect of an opioid overdose.

Naloxone is an antidote for an opioid overdose.

Naloxone is an antidote for an opioid overdose.

But not everyone believes the bill goes far enough.

"It's a good thing that he signed something and we're on his radar, you know,” said John Shinholser, President and CEO of the McShin Foundation. “I’ve been around a long time and view this as like a chipper bill… in which they're chipping away at the bigger issue.”

Shinholser said the focus needs to be on long term recovery, like providing more funding for existing treatment centers and opening more, not throw addicts behind bars.

McShin

McShin

"We have to make recovery cool and fun, compassionate and loving,” said Shinholser. "And I guarantee you most of these addicts won't keep chasing drug after drug after drug.”

CBS 6 reached out to Governor McAuliffe’s office about Shinholser's concerns.

Spokesman Brian Coy said there is $5 million dollars in the state budget for treatment and lifesaving interventions.

“The state does not provide direct funding to non-profit organizations. States can contact with providers (and we do), but we don't just send money to them,” said Coy. “The bills we signed today are changes in the law that will help get change how these drugs are prescribed and how people get treatment for addiction.”