New Jersey lawmakers in the Assembly and State Senate have passed a revised version of legislation known as the Overdose Prevention Act.

(Flickr Photo: Charles Williams)

The measure would protect Good Samaritans, who call for help if a friend or acquaintance is overdosing on an illegal drug like heroin, and it also allows healthcare professionals to use the drug naloxone to treat overdose victims.

"Something has to be done because what we're doing isn't working - we're losing too many young people," says Assemblywoman Connie Wagner.

She points out about 700 people a year die from accidental drug overdoses in the Garden State.

"Sometimes they find a person outside in persons yard- just abandoned - because the party's left," she says. "Nobody wants to be there when the police come in, so they leave. This legislation will help to save lives."

"Too many New Jersey families have had to endure the death of a loved one from an overdose, many of whom could have been saved if bystanders were not fearful that they would be arrested and prosecuted for petty crimes," State Senator Joe Vitale says. "Hopefully this bill will remove that fear and end their hesitation in reaching out for emergency help to save someone's life."

Roseanne Scotti, the New Jersey State Director for Drug Policy Alliance, points out the number of people who die of drug overdose exceeds that from gun violence, as well as from auto accidents.

During a Statehouse news conference, she said relatives of those who have lost loved ones from drug overdoses worked tirelessly on getting the bill passed.

"Taking their almost unbearable pain and grief, and turned it into a gift for other families in communities across New Jersey - that no one else will suffer the loss and pain that they have."

The legislation, which had been conditionally vetoed by Governor Christie, was reworked, and it is now expected the Governor will sign it into law in the coming days.