OWASSO, Okla. - After accusations over not having licensed medical staff and procedures, Narconon Arrowhead has been in the national spotlight. Now, a new law could require the rehab center and others around the state to make big improvements.
Tuesday, Gov. Mary Fallin signed Senate Bill 295 into law. It is now known as Stacy's Law and will provide oversight for drug rehabilitation centers in the state.
Stacy's Law requires the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to create a set of rules for certification for organizations that treat people with drug and alcohol related substance abuse problems. It is intended to ensure that only certified facilities treat these issues and criminally punishes facilities that attempt rehabilitation without certification.
The law is named for Stacy Dawn Murphy, who died of an overdose while seeking treatment for addiction at Narconon Arrowhead in July 2012.
She was one of three patients to die at the Pittsburg County facility in a nine-month span.
RELATED: Narconon of Oklahoma CEO opens up after recent deaths provoke scrutiny (http://bit.ly/1009JHY)
Lawsuits against Narconon Arrowhead have alleged that drug treatment at the facility was performed with no training or education in the field of rehabilitation. Instead, according to suits filed against Narconon Arrowhead, staff members relied on the teachings of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to address alcohol and rehabilitation needs.
Stacy's father, Robert Murphy, calls the law named for his daughter the beginning of an effort to ensure that future families do not suffer the loss of a child like he has.
"Seeking justice for my daughter's death was one thing, but trying to fight for the safety and health of other people that have to endure this was also a challenge," he said.
The word challenge is an understatement for Murphy, who will commemorate the one-year anniversary of his daughter's death in about two months. He says the last year has been somewhat of a blur.
"A fog is basically the way to put it. You can't focus on anything. Every day is a challenge," Murphy said.
For months, Murphy says his focus was fighting what he calls the injustice surrounding Stacy's death. Now, however, he says he's re-channeled that energy into fighting for families that have children with substance abuse problems.
"Fighting for is a different mindset. It helps you not be so angry when you're working for something to help make a change and to protect other people."
Murphy is currently suing Narconon Arrowhead for wrongful death, negligence and violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act. The suit is pending.
RELATED: Family files wrongful death lawsuit against Narconon Arrowhead rehabilitation center (http://bit.ly/10lmDzJ)